Cape Coast Castle
Today the group visited Cape Coast Castle, a World UNESCO site, and one of the locations on the Gold Coast that played a major part in the transatlantic slave trade. The group visited the museum at the site and then had a tour of the dungeons, cells, captains quarters, and after exiting The Door of No Return, entered back through the same entryway, now named the "Door of Return."
Three students share their thoughts about what was experienced today.
Cecelia Qiu ’22
“The castle is a beautiful architecture on the outside. But the history behind it is full of violence and blood. It seemed at first a very peaceful place to be, to enjoy the ocean and the breezes. But when we learn about the horrible tortures happened to innocent people, it is hard to look at it the same again.”
Stella Zhu ’22 describes the cell, where slaves who fought against the officers were locked:
“There was a cell where slaves who fought get locked in. It was completely surrounded by darkness. The walls should be smooth and clean from marks, but there were marks (plaster was gone) on the wall that showed signs of people who had chains bonded on their hands struggling. The Europeans did not let the slaves die peacefully, they made them die of dehydration.”
Sophie Zhu ’21 offers her thoughts on how complex the history is:
“When people talk about race here, they talk about white and blacks, but as an Asian person, I often find myself in a situation and mindset that might be different than others. When other people walk into the dark, airless dungeon, they might think about their ancestors, wonder where their roots are, wonder what they could have become if history was altered. But to me, there was empathy and possibly a more objective judgment. In last night's reading, I saw an alternative narrative that some Africans envy African Americans because after their ancestors had gone though the tortured journey to the west, and they are now more educated, more wealthy and are having a ‘better life' in their new ‘home'. Speaking from my perspective, I understand why people would feel this way, I know how to rebut them (imagine yourself going through that torture, you are just selfish), but I also kind of understand them. Does the slave trade do any good on the enslaved people or is there only inhumanity? I don't think there is a simple answer to that question. I believe it is complex, with a positive and negative impact on both groups. I felt depressed and breathless when I was introduced to the extreme conditions people were put into. The one moment when I saw the birds flying into the narrow, dark cell, so many thoughts emerged.”
After returning from Cape Coast we met as a group and had a rich discussion about our experience at the castle. Tomorrow we will head to Kakum National Forest and then back to Accra.