Thursday, 9 July 2015

Elmina, West Africa’s Oldest Slave Post……

Built by the Portuguese in 1482, Elmina is the oldest European Building in Sub-Saharan Africa, though its infamy is much more noted as the most famous Slave Port on the Gulf of Guinea, located just west along the coast from Cape Coast as you drive towards Takoradi.

I paid a visit here (another UNESCO World Heritage Site) and was given a guided tour which gave the long and (let’s be honest sad) history of this castle.

St. George’s Castle was used for almost 200 years as a key Trading Post from Africa to the New World, and in its time was governed by the Portuguese, Dutch and also the British prior to Ghana’s Independence in 1957, when it became a Police Training Centre.

A walk into the Dungeons has a very foreboding feel, a real sense of a place where the walls could tell stories, some 500 slaves at a time were crammed in here, and you can feel the humidity and can only imagine the smell and heat in these small spaces in those dark days. Many died here long before they ever got close to the boats and were simply thrown into the sea. 

Slave traders brought slaves to Elmina from as far away as modern day Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Burkina Faso for “export”.

In the Inner courtyard, a cannonball was used to tie up misbehaving slaves in the open sun and without water, others were taken to a cell in another part of the castle where they were left to die of starvation, and of course the lucky ones eventually got taken the short walk to the “Door of No Return”, where they were taken to waiting ships to commence their journey to the cotton fields in the New World of the Caribbean and the America's.

Door of No Return
The Tour Guide provides an excellent and very honest narrative of the Castle and its Slave trade history, and also goes on to show the soldiers quarters and also the small school that was established at Elmina, for the children that were born there of colonial parentage.

An eye opening visit and well worth doing, even if it makes you feel upset, its provides a good understanding of the heritage of Africa and indeed further afield.

Isolation Cell