Before I begin with this post, let me say (at long last – you might have been wondering where I had got to (or not!)) Many Many Thanks to everyone who visited this blog after my post “Shop Names in Ghana” was featured in Freshly Pressed. And Thank You, WordPress!! I’ve been travelling for much of July, and came home to experience “all the evil” with my internet connection and a non-renewable ip address. All, thankfully, has been resolved. I’m hoping to get the opportunity to make some return visits to all of you who left comments on my blog in the coming weeks. Thanks again :)
Back to Ghana…
Despite the fact that the last serving role of the Cape Coast Castle was purely administrative, it still has a spooky feel about it. Originally built as a fort by the Danish, it was taken over by the Dutch until the Anglo-Dutch War (1664-1665), after which the British established their headquarters here and expanded the building for their trading operations in the Gulf of Guinea.
It is an ugly reality that much of the trade, during the 18th Century until 1807, was in slaves.
The World Heritage Site is reputed to have been one of the largest slave-holding sites in the world during the colonial era, where Ghanaians – many of them traded to the British by the Ashantis in return for alcohol and guns – were stored before being cramped into returning merchant ships and deported to a life of captive labour.
…below ground, in the claustrophobic dungeons which saw tens of thousands of Ghanaians incarcerated during the peak of that barbaric era, it is a grim and sobering place indeed.
Source: “Ghana, the Bradt Travel Guide” by Philip Briggs.
After reading this description, I couldn’t quite bring myself to go inside the castle itself. I knew it was going to haunt me something horrid. It is a shameful episode in British (and, to be fair, the Ashanti’s) history.
Much more colourful, positive and vibrant were the fishing boats pulled up onto the sands – close to the back entrance of the castle, labelled on the inside as the “Door of No Return”. This door now sports a new label: “Door of Return”, after two descendants of slaves were invited back to the castle a few years ago.