Thank God for Mr. Swan’s African American Studies class in the 12th grade circa 2004. It truly inspired me to learn more about Ghana’s rich history, the good AND the bad. The discussion of Cape Coast Slave Castle came up right before we watched the film entitled Sankofa.
The 1993 film starts with a scene in Cape Coast, Ghana. I will admit that I slept through the rest of this film after the Cape Coast scene. I know, shame on me but I am just going to blame it on senioritis. I was diagnosed with a severe case of it on the first day of 12th grade. As a result, it was hard for me to focus and I slept through some of my classes….lol However, I did watch Sankofa in its entirety almost 10 years later via You Tube. Unfortunately, I can’t link it because its since then been removed from You Tube.
About a year and a half later after watching Sankofa,
well that first scene I visited Cape Coast Castle for the first time. I discussed in this post here that up until Mr. Swan’s class, I never knew Ghana had slave castles. I didn’t know much about Ghana to be honest. Since this first trip in 2006 pictured above, I have visited the castle two more times. The third time was recently this past summer. I vlogged that entire visit here (or play the video below).
I am sure I will go again in the future with friends or relatives who haven’t been there. Recently, I was watching one of my favorite Ghana vlogs for the umpteenth time from a fellow vlogger and fellow first generation Ghanaian Ruwaydah. I found some of the comments below very interesting but this one took the cake and I had to respond immediately. See the conversation below.
Below is my rapid response.
And then below is another comment separate from this comment thread above.
8 Reasons Why the Preservation of Ghana’s Slave Castles is Important
- The Atlantic Slave trade is an important part of World History.
- We must LEARN from history so injustice does not repeat itself. My tour guide Kojo said the following in the video above (starting at mark 31:04), “Let us learn from what happened. The dungeons are empty, slavery has been abolished. But slavery is still happening in many forms. Today you hear of the child labors & human trafficking. Many, many forms of slavery. Let’s continue to fight against modern slavery.”
- Many people don’t ever truly learn about slave castles and the role it played in holding innocent people captive during the Atlantic Slave Trade. Speaking for myself, the Atlantic Slave Trade was sugar coated throughout ALL of my history and social studies classes throughout my education. I wasn’t truly educated until Mr. Swan’s African American Studies class in the 12th grade.
- It’s a tourist attraction and museum that educates its visitors.
- As a result, it is profitable for Ghana’s economy and for Ghanaians who work there.
- It’s our duty as Ghanaians to tell the story of our ancestors. It’s still our history despite the tragedy of it all.
- It serves as a memorial that honors our ancestors. These slaves were humans with families. They were not animals or “cargo”. Their lives and existence need to be acknowledged.
- It CONNECTS those in the African Diaspora with Africa. Ghana has a lot to offer, more than just slave castles. However, for many living in the African Diaspora, the castles spark that initial interest that brings them to Ghana to learn more about their history and the Atlantic slave trade. It gives them a deeper understanding that can’t be attained from just reading a history book.
That’s all the reasons I can think of for now but I know this list will be updated!
Then there is the issue of the name. A fellow Ghanaian commented on another vlog of mines asking me to change the title of my vlog Ghana 2015| Vlog #3: Cape Coast Slave Castle. Below is his comment.
He wanted me to remove the word “slave” from my title because it is hurtful to Ghanaians. Personally, I find it difficult to call it a “castle” because that makes it sound like something out of a Disney film and not the prison/death chamber that it really was. I would rather refer to it as a slave dungeon. However online, in textbooks and on Wikipedia, it’s referred to as “Cape Coast Castle”. I think it’s important for me to specify what kind of castle it was if I am going to call it a “castle”. Therefore, I will call it what it was, a slave castle. Let’s just be clear because this was not a fairy tale.
- Do you think Ghana still needs preserve the slave castles in Cape Coast and Elmina ?
- Should they be torn down ?
- What about the name “Cape Coast Castle” or “Elmina Castle”? Should the names be changed and if so to what?
PLEASE share your thoughts below. I want to hear your opinions on this subject.
Thanks for reading and have a very blessed week! 🙂