Cape Coast, Ghana: Remembering the Elmina (Slave) Castle

El Mina Castle, Photo by Raquel CepedaPresident Barack Obama’s is en route to Accra and Cape Coast, Ghana. He’s I went there a couple of years ago for work and pleasure, or rather, pleasurable work. I was invited to screen my film, sit on a panel, and spend my birthday at Elmina with a dear friend.  Visiting the castle was a  haunting experience. It made me really angry for the human beings that suffered horribly at the greedy hands of several European masters and with the blessing of Christian priests who saw Africans as being soulless. Being in the castle made me feel reverent for those souls who managed, somehow, to survive the hellish trip to the New World. The women’s quarters is particularly difficult to stand still in: the stench of urine and blood that still lingers in the dense air was overwhelming. Walking up the rickety steps to the old Governor’s quarters was surreal. Standing in what is commonly referred to as the “rape room,” for obvious reasons, was infuriating. The atrocities endured during the African Holocaust is a part of history that bridges those on the continent with people of color in the Caribbean and throughout the Americas. It’s a pity that slavery isn’t taught in the United States the way it is in, say, Europe. Everybody needs to see this, I thought, as I made my way through the cramped, dark tunnel that led to the “door of no return”: saints, sinners, gangbangers, wannabe thugs. Black and White. Everybody.

Staircase @ El Mina by Raquel Cepedastaircase located in the women’s cell leading up to Governor’s quarters

The emotional roller coaster ride that was visiting Elmina was only made stranger when the tour was over. I spoke to a little girl who didn’t believe the castle was used for the slave trade. A local historian told me that many people in the area, most of whom never visited the castle, don’t believe that the slave trade flourished inside the castle walls.  I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone.

Women's cell at El Mina. Photograph by Raquel Cepedawomen’s cell located beneath the Governor’s quarters

There’s nothing that can prepare President Obama for what he will encounter once he steps through the doors of the castle. I wonder how he will experience this, as a child of a white mother and Kenyan father. I wonder how this experience will inform the rest of his administration. I’m anticipating his reaction.

Prison for slaves @ El Mina. Photograph by Raquel CepedaMale slaves were left to die here when imprisoned

View from the top of the castle, by Raquel CepedaView from the top. This is where the slave traders spent their time when not committing atrocities

Door of no return @ El Mina. By Raquel CepedaDoor of no return @ Elmina

In Everlasting by Raquel Cepedaplaque located @ entrance of the castle

Comments 4

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  3. Me being a Black women can not speak. I am so hurt. Thank you for allowing me to see a little bit of what my people had to go through

  4. I am very proud to be an African. although am now reside in the USA, from the buttom of my heart, I will never forgive those who did these action. took my brothers and sisters into captivity far away from their Motherland. the treatment they received from these individuals, was unaccecptable. I will never change my culture i’m proud of Africa and I want to go back to my motherland. God bless those with the same feeling.

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