I was lucky enough to do a weekend trip to Cape Coast. It is probably one of the few places that I’ve traveled to around Ghana where I wish I could of stayed longer. It reminded me the East Coast of Canada, a lot more laid back then the main cities but still too big to be considered a Village. It is also a fishing town so seeing men repairing their nets or prepping them for the next day was a common site.
We visited the Canopy walk in Kakum National Park and ending up getting a boat tour from a fisherman but the most interesting part of the trip was going to Cape Coast Castle. This castle is known because it was at one point a castle used to export slaves from West Africa. The area of Ghana was called the gold coast and at one point there was about forty of these castles exporting slaves. The castle purpose was not built to hold slaves but for defense of the coast and of the Gold land. However every huge power was trying to get ahead so they eventually they all ended up exporting slaves because it was good money.
Cape Coast Castle was originally built by the Swedish to export lumber and gold. The Castle had changed hands many times, some powers included Denmark, Netherlands and Portugal. However in the end the Castle was run by the British.
The tour started in the male dungeon, it was a dark room that only had three slits for lighting. The tour guide said that up to 1000 men would be held here for up to three months. There was another hole on the other side of the room that was for ocean water. Once a day ocean water would be dumped into the room to cool the slaves but also to help clear out human waste. However since the capacity of these dungeons was so high the tour guide said that at times there would be human waste up to about a metre high in the room, therefore the ocean water did not really help drain the room. Many died in these rooms and many got sick. The “final” test was to go through a small tunnel to the ship. The tunnel was about half a door high and was about 200 metres long and slaves would have to walk through with chains, this was to weed out the “weak” so that only the “strong” would be sent. The boats would be names things to give the slaves false hope e.g. “Jesus Saves” and “Better Life”.
The women’s dungeon was very similar to the men’s but one of the major differences was that there was an isolation cell. The isolation cell was for the women who refused rape from British solider’s. The tour guide said that when a woman was pregnant sometimes she would be taken to live with one of the solider’s as his wife if he wanted her. But often times she would have he child and then be thrown back into slavery. If a women was found pregnant while on the ship she would be thrown off.
Below is a general map of where the slaves left from and where they were received.