Elmina Castle Reflection

“Silence, if you respond to a little bit of it sort of hides.  But if you remain open, then it reveals more”[i]

Today was a day of reflecting at the Elmina and Cape Coast Slave Castles. In 2018, I visited the Elmina Castle.  It is enough to visit one castle.  But today, I got to visit two of them.  Two times the sadness and disappointment of hearing the history of our ancestors being sold into slavery. Two castles with one intent:  to bring in African people, hold them, rape the women, beat the men in submission.  And those who survived would be sold into slavery.  The Elmina Castle was controlled by the Portuguese.  The Cape Coast Castle was controlled by the British.  They reveled in power and greed, to satisfy their evil, degrading lifestyles.  History tells of the control, invasions, and entrapments surrounding this trade and cargo that we call our African brothers and sisters.

The silence is deafening here.  But I can hear – the screams, the cries, the agony of innocent people.  The stench of death and decay.  No, I did not purchase a memorial to be placed in the dungeons of the men and women who were held, waiting to be shipped off, through the doors of no return.  I can’t purchase my way of this remembrance.  I carry history and the wounds scarred in my consciousness in my heart and soul – what was done to our people.  I am sad every time I visit these places.  The sadness is the memorial, so that I will never forget.   So that we might never forget.

At the Cape Coast Castle, one woman was standing in front of the door of no return.  She kept saying, “the door of no return, the door of no return, but we did return, the door of no return, but we did return.”  The door at the Cape Castle was significantly larger than the door at the Elmina castle.  One would have to stoop down to get through the door at Elmina.  But at the Cape Coast Castle, one could walk upright through the door.  I guess there is no real significance that these doors were different unless we imagine each position from a different perspective.  There may have been dignity in walking upright through a door that you did not know where it would take you.  Our people walked through many doors, some never to return. “But we did return.”

We ended our time at the market with people everywhere – living and thriving the best way they can.  It was a joy to see them working, moving, selling, and buying, bargaining for the best deals, to provide for their families and their communities.