In the Shadow of Cape Coast Castle, Ghana

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…

Cape Coast Panorama

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.

Rusty cannons and walls in need of a fresh coat of paint do nothing to endear me to this place…

It is an ugly reality that much of the trade, during the 18th Century until 1807, was in slaves.

Broken defences

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.

Salt water and iron never were good friends

Fresh paint hides a spooky feel… (but only just)

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.

The Door of Return

Fishing boats on the coast – named in a similar way to the shops

Vibrant fishing boats pulled up onto the shore

Colourful flags flap in the breeze

The wooden blocks remind me of a packet of liquorice allsorts…

11 thoughts on “In the Shadow of Cape Coast Castle, Ghana

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