Visiting the slave castle was one of the main sites of importance that I was looking forward to experience. As many know, I did my AncestryDNA test a few months ago and I know the origins of my ancestry. While majority of my ancestry comes from Central Africa, going to the castle still meant seeing what my ancestors endured and somehow survived.
I probably could’ve stayed in the museum portion of the castle alone. I like to read every word of each description when I go to museums of historic importance. When I saw the shackles, ropes, and branding I was in shock. Those tools were just the beginning of what one faced during captivity. It was sad to see how the other parts of the Triangular trade reaped so much from slavery yet in the end and in the present, those same African countries face more challenges and economic struggles. One of the displays showed what was traded for humans, ivory, and gold and it was irons, glasses, and guns. It confused me to see simple things like plates and cups being traded for the valuable assets of entire humans and ivory. Plates and guns were way less influential in building an empire like America, but still the trade was in tact for centuries.
I wish I had more of an emotional reaction going to the castle but it just didn’t happen. I think the constant conversations during the program in the efforts to prepare the few African American students for the castle, somewhat distracted from actually getting the experience. We were told to prepare for tour guides that may make somewhat inappropriate or joking comments during a matter we felt were serious. We were told that surrounding the castle, there would be shops and markets around. We were told that the same coast that was the last bit of Africa that slaves would sea, was now used for fishing and that there would be boats all around the coast. Apparently, Ghanaians had moved on from slavery in a way that African Americans hadn’t. And so being told this several times throughout the trip, somewhat took away from the experience for me to figure it out and process it on my on. I think that’s why I just went in without really being able to think about its importance, in an effort to not become upset at the way the site appeared to be treated. Maybe if I had visited the castle by myself, or perhaps the Elmina Castle, I would have had a different experience.
It still was powerful to step foot in the actual slave dungeons. It was dark, stuffy, and I immediately felt claustrophobic just after 5 minutes inside. Feeling claustrophobic was so minor compared to everything that happened in there. And people were in those dungeons for MONTHS. All of the things I take for granted now like being able to drink as much water as I want, food, water, and basic humanity were ripped away from my ancestors who had to endure slavery. I can only thank God that he gave them the strength to make it through such a long lasting nightmare.
The castle is strongly beautiful with the waves rising against the shore, its wild to think so much pain and suffering happened in those premises. There was even a church built on top of one of the dungeons. People would actually worship right in the midsts of their own evil doings. They still thought they were holy. They saw nothing wrong with what they were doing. It made me think about the times we are in now and how there’s so much that society turns their head to. People really can be so dark and cruel but I just hope that the world will get better and learn from their mistakes.