Always in the deep woods when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place there will be, along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is an ancient fear of the unknown and is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into. What you are doing is exploring. -- Wendell Berry

The TRIP: GUINEA - wonkifong --> MALI - bamako, djenne, douentza, Dogon Country --> Burkina Faso - ouagadougou, bobo-dioulasso, bala, ouagadougou --> GHANA - tamale, mole national park, tamale, yeji, volta lake ferry, akosombo, accra, green turtle lodge, elmina, cape coast, accra, hohoe and wli falls --> TOGO - kpalime, atakpame, lome --> BENIN - cotonu (transport stop) --> NIGER - niamey, tahoua, agadez, camel trek in aiir mtns, niamey --> BENIN (abomey, grand popo, ouidah, ganvie, cotonou) --> CAMEROON (douala, buea, top of Mt Cameroon, limbe, sangelima, yaounde, kribi, douala) --> MAURITANIA (nouakchott, atar, chinguetti, camels into the sahara, terjit, choume, ride the coal train, nouadhibou) --> MOROCCO (western sahara, dakhla, agadir, essaouira, marrakesh, imlil, summit of jebel toubkal, fes, chefchaouen) --> cross the Strait of Gibraltar --> Malaga, Spain --> fly to Geneva, Switzerland --> Les Grangettes, France
Click for a map. Updated April 30, 2007

dimanche, avril 01, 2007

Slave Castles - Ghana Coast

During the 17th Century, the European powers began concentrating on the West African coast, specifically the Gulf of Guinea which contains the current Ghanian shoreline. The coast was known as the Gold Coast due to the access to gold, ivory, spices and later, unfortuantely, slaves. At the Europeans jostled for coastal dominance, they constructed forts and castles along the coast. These structures were not to defend against Africans, but to protect against other European nations. The good thing about the Ghanian coastline compared to much of the remainder of West Africa is that it is rocky instead of swampy. This allows the building of large fortifications. By the end of the 18th Century, 37 forts occupied a 500 km stretch of coastline. Today, two of these castles are classified as Unesco World Heritage Sites. They are located in Elmina and Cape Coast, Ghana and I was fortunate to visit both sites.

The tours at the castles showed where slaves would be held until leaving Africa for the Americas. The dungeons were damp and stuffy and people could be held there for up to six weeks. Finally, the men and women would pass through the "Door of No Return" where they would pass to begin the Middle Passage. The door leads to a beach where small boats waited to transport people out to the bigger ships.

The following inscription was written on both castles:

In Everlasting Memory
Of the anguish of our ancestors
may those who died rest in peace
may those who return find their roots
may humanity never again perpetrate
such injustice against humanity
we, the living, vow to uphold this