17th August 2017 was a very special day for us. Participants of the #GhanaGCC2017 embarked on a field trip to Cape Coast Castle, which was originally built for trade of timber and gold, and later used in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. With a guided tour through the castle, we saw the very dungeons where African “captives” were cruelly confined for weeks before ships arrived and they would be sent out of the “door of no return” to become slaves in plantation farms in different parts of the Americas.
Junior Fellow from India, Sanchita Vishwa says,
“The visit was overwhelming and enlightening. I realized that I did not know much about African history and that most of us go by what we hear about it, through stereotypes. The entire tour was intense and felt very real. In one of the male dungeons, the tour guide turned off the lights and as we all stood there, enveloped in darkness, the silence in the musty dungeon so deafening, a question was constantly throbbing in my mind- What is humanity? What makes us all human?
The atrocities against these people were committed by humans, our species, and that for me, was incredibly scary to even imagine. As we concluded our tour, flushed with a sea of emotions and the smell of ocean salt wafting in the air, I was reminded of a quote - Hope is stronger than fear. And the least we can do is hope; hope for a better tomorrow, where humanity never fails us and modern day slavery is ultimately brought to an end.”
Cape Coast Castle is the largest of the so called slave castles and was built by Portuguese/Dutch elite in the 1600s during a time of enormous racial inequality, which culminated in the trans- Atlantic slave trade where millions of Africans were torn from their homes, deported to the American continent and sold as slaves.
Our visit triggered a wide range of emotions, insights, questions, and discussions. Here are a few snippets and quotes to connect with what we experienced during the visit.
Alana Ingram, a Dillard University Junior Fellow stated that
“It was a disappointment to see the atrocities done to my people but it gives me hope for the future that people were willing to acknowledge what happened. And I hope that when people see injustice in the future they will take action.”
Destiny Tucker, a Junior Fellow from New Orleans,
”I knew coming in that I would feel some intense emotions but being there in the actual place where these atrocities took place and actually envisioning it, envisioning how they felt, what they heard while in the dungeons below allowed me to feel deep pain amongst other emotions and feelings. The fact that space captors had insurance on the slaves so that whether they lived, died or where dumped into the ocean they would still receive payment didn't come as a surprise to me, but hearing it and being in the actual space where it took place affected was really hard for me.”
The day came to an end with a reflection session on the visit and some time to sit, talk and connect among Fellows and with new local friends at the beach at Cape Coast. It was a day of intense learning, reflection and a lot of food for thought. The field trip will be remembered by all attendees for years to come.
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