Dungeons and Captives | A traumatising visit to Cape Coast Castle
There are three slave castles in Ghana which are the Cape Coast castle, Elmina Castle and Fort Christiansborg castle. Each of these castles were used in holding black humans captive and eventually, they got sold to seemingly more ‘superior humans’.
Up to this day, there are so many Africans in diaspora coming back home regularly in search of answers and their roots while others visit these slave forts as honour to the millions of slaves.
My visit to cape coast castle was my first time visiting any slave castle in Ghana. As I stepped into each of the dungeons at the castle, I could feel the pains, wails and tears of the people who were stocked in extremely dark and small spaces.
Some of my colleagues who I was visiting the castle with had major nervous breakdown as we stepped into those cells. The cells/rooms were completely void of air; with tiny or no windows. No convenience or food. Completely nothing! The tour guide had described how pungent the smell of sweat mixed faeces and congealed menstrual flows. It was gross to hear, what more to imagine. What’s more unbelievable is that a lot of the prisoners had to live in such conditions until they were shipped. Man’s inhumanity to his fellow man!.
The prisoners must have lived in despair. We were shown were the ‘masters’ stayed, in the upper chambers. It was a different world from the thousands languishing right beneath were they laid their heads to sleep with the ocean breeze smoothing their skins. Lest I forget, right on top one of the dungeons was a Portuguese and German church. Hmmmmm…..
What of the ones who were raped, the stubborn ones who were ruthlessly punished or the unfortunate ones who has to satisfy the urges of the master. How did these slaves define life? Did they trust in God despite living what appeared to be a regrettable life? Did they have happy moments while in darkness? So many thoughts ran through my mind as we walked around.
Some of the women looked to be choosen by the master so they could get pregnant and be sent back to the town to have their babies, that way they remained in Ghana and escaped doom. The rest were shipped away! You may wonder who bought these slaves and for what purpose. Well, crazy foreigners without the DIY(Do-It-Yourself) culture and who felt they needed some cheap help the house, or on the farm.
After seeing the men, women and children dungeons, we walked down a small alleyway and through a heavy door called the “Door of No Return”. This was the point of goodbye to the homeland for many.
The castle’s slavery shenanigans eventually stopped as a result of Britain’s ban on the slave trade in Ghana. The castle then returned to non-human commodity trade centre, after which it was turned into an army training facility. Today, the castle is a museum and historical site.
“In everlasting memory of our ancestors. May those who died rest in peace. May those who return find their roots. May humanity never gain perpetuate such injustice against humanity. We, the living vow to uphold this”