August 7, 2012

Visit to Cape Coast

By Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity

by Kamaria Carnes

Today we traveled to Cape Coast, a large town situated on the Gulf of Guinea, to visit the Cape Coast Castle. The Cape Coast Castle was one of the 30 castles and forts built along Ghana’s coastline that were used in the transatlantic slave trade. While some of the castles started off as trading posts for gold and other goods, the Cape Coast Castle was built specifically for the slave trade.

We took a tour of the castle, which was still preserved pretty well. The conditions that the Europeans kept the Africans in were horrific. The male dungeons occupied as many as 1,000 people at one time in a combined area that was no bigger than about half of a football field. In these small, dark chambers people ate, slept, sweat and defecated in close proximity for weeks, sometimes months. At least 1/3 of the Africans died before the ships even arrived and while the death tolls range from 2 million to 100 million, the deaths of enslaved Africans within the 400 years of the slave trade outnumbered the amount that survived the trip itself.

plague

The plaque that sits right outside of the male slave dungeon.

male slave dungeon entry

Entry into the male slave dungeon.

slave dungeon floor

The floor of the slave dungeons. The brick foundation had a layer of feces and other body fluids, shown here.

church

A church that ironically sits right on top of the male dungeon that was in use during the slave trade and was also used as a classroom for children who were of mixed European and African backgrounds.

cannons

Cannons that were used to protect the castle from other European countries.

door of no return

Door of No Return.

looking through the door

This door was the final exit for Africans out of the castle. After they passed through this door to load into the ships, they were never seen again.

Being a descendent of Africans in the slave trade who endured being torn from their communities and families, the torture, the long and grueling middle passage and countless other monstrosities really made me grateful of what my ancestors had to go through for their survival which ensured my existence today. It was really hard to imagine what enslaved Africans went through, but being in the castle really resonated with everyone, regardless of their race.

After a really emotional tour of the castle, we traveled to Kakum National Park—an undisturbed evergreen rainforest that has 40 meter high canopy walkways that are suspended between trees.

sign on way to canopy walk

A sign on the way up to the canopy walk.

bridge

One of the bridges! No one looked down!

group

Fardowsa, Gladys, Taylor, Aminita, Fuadi and I — Six of the 61 members of the 2010 Summer Transition Program that’s offered through the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity.

Crossing the seven high bridges tested our trust in each other. But we all finally made it to the end as a group.

we did it

We did it!

Then we drove to our hotel for the next few nights. It is right off of the coast and the scenery is beautiful!

coconut grove

Parking lot of our hotel, Coconut Grove

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