On the Cape Coast and Elmina Castles
[The Elmina Slave Castle]
On the fourth and fifth day of our trip, my cohort and I traveled from Accra to Cape Coast. There, we visited the Elmina and Cape Coast slave castles.
The castles were initially built by the Portuguese and the British to engage in various trade ventures. This trading eventually evolved to include the buying and selling of Ghanaians who would be shipped to the Americas or the Caribbean or any other country to be put to work or sold again. The buildings still bore traces of the obscene and certainly inhumane behavior on the part of slave traders and colonizers who took residence there. Hearing of the treatment of the slaves was astonishing.
It was also very interesting to see the interaction that local Ghanaians had with both sites. Outside of the Cape Coast Castle, for example, people were fishing and trading. I concluded that their relationship to the castle was different than that of African Americans or any other black person visiting from the diaspora who did not have to live with it every day. My professor reminded the group that the people living in Cape Coast were there before the castle and had to live amidst the disruption it caused.
The fact that the castles exist is tangible evidence of the horrific slave trade on the Golden Coast. The castle's eerie feeling was not only because it reminded me of the history of slavery but because, while it was supposed to represent the past, I know that systems of slavery sadly still exist today.
[The Cape Coast Slave Castle]
The sculptures and photographs of the heads (excluding the one in the chambers) are a part of an exhibit on the grounds entitled "In Memoriam: Portraits of the Middle Passage, in Situ", a part of The Nkyinkyim Installation by Kwame Akoto-Bamfo, curated by Daniel Dunson. The Nkinyim Installation is an evolving art installation by Akoto-Bamfo, a Ghanaian artist who uses art to document and tell narratives of Ghanian/African heritage.