Ghana Blog: Cape Coast Castle

July 14th, 2015

The Cape Coast Castle was an enormous, white building that sat right on the edge of the ocean. As soon as you walk into its enormous walls, you are greeted with the astonishing sight of the sea. I could not peel my eyes away from watching the waves ravenously crash against the brown rocks that extended from the castle. After a few minutes, we were told to go look at the museum while we waited for our guided tour of the castle to start. As we entered the museum, the smell of musty wood engulfed my senses. It followed me while I glanced at the faces that had to suffer under the slave trade, as I learned about the history of these people and the suffering they had to endure. Finally, near the end we entered a room made from the original wood of the castle that showed how thousands of slaves were thrust into rooms that would only comfortably hold six or seven people. It was then that I began to realize that hundreds of years ago, slave owners and even slaves themselves, crossed that exact floor I had walked on. People had suffered and died in this very castle. The depth of the situation slowly began to creep into my heart.

After we exited the museum, it was time to head to our guided tour. We started at the Male Slave Dungeons. The entrance was an opening in the wall, which looked like it led deep down into the earth. After taking a few steps, brick surrounded us and we blindly followed the guide as it became darker and darker. We were all herded into a room, where the only light source was three, miniscule windows. The guide began to tell us how this room would hold up to 300 hundred people. He explained that there was no bathroom; these people had to relieve themselves where they stood and could not move from the filth for up to 3 months. He showed us how the waste piled up to 8 to 10 inches up the wall and exhibited the 3 inches of solid human waste that was left as proof of the horrid conditions these people had to live through. We continued the tour and eventually ended up at the Female Slave Dungeons. The guide explained that guards would take some of the female slaves for their pleasure, and if the women resisted they would be locked in a room no bigger than a closet for days and even weeks. The women, like the men, were stored hundreds in a room with no way to escape their own filth.

By the end of the tour, I felt a sense of mourning. Even though I had no connection to these people and could not even begin to imagine the anguish that surrounded their lives, I could not help but feel sadness. The beauty of the ocean and the majesty of the castle were shadowed by the intense reality of the inexcusable and despicable events that happened on the ground that was beneath my feet. Coming to Cape Coast taught me more humanity in one hour than I had learned in the twenty years of my life. I am thankful that this trip to Ghana has provided me the opportunity to not only grow as a pre-health student, but also grow as a person.

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