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Ghana: Elmina slave castle

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Elmina slave castle | Ghana | Africa

[Visited: August 1988; February 1999]

While staying a few months in Lomé, Togo, I made a sidetrip to Ghana for 4 days. By far the most impressive sight during this visit was for sure the Elmina slave fortress, not in the least because it is a reminder of the shameful presence of my fellow Dutchmen there in history. Although built by the Portugues, it was under Dutch supervisors that Elmina gained importance as a slave shipping centre.

Picture of Elmina slave castle (Ghana): Elmina fortress

From outside, the fortress has a nice, white look and you almost are tempted to believe you are entering a very pictoresque place. Until you study its history. Here, African men and women were assembled by force from the inlands of the West African coast, before being shipped to plantations in the Americas. People were squeezed into too small rooms, where they had to wait too long before boarding one of the ships waiting outside. In the fortress, maps of the ships can be seen where the most economical way is drawn to put as many people as possible inside the ships.

Picture of Elmina slave castle (Ghana): Elmina fortress: inner courtyard

During the trips, because of the hardships of the voyage, an important part of the slaves died, thus rendering only the strongest and reliable ones upon arrival. While walking around the fortress and listening to the explanations given by my guide, I tried to imagine how people must have felt there. Despite the hot climate, cold shivers ran down my spine upon seeing this organized way of robbing people of their freedom and tearing them apart from their homeland, their families, their culture.

Picture of Elmina slave castle (Ghana): View from a balcony in Elmina fortress
Picture of Elmina slave castle (Ghana): Bridge and fortified walls of Elmina slave castle
Picture of Elmina slave castle (Ghana): While the white makes the castle look innocent, Elmina has a brutal history
Picture of Elmina slave castle (Ghana): Some of the buildings on the inner courtyard of Elmina slave castle
Picture of Elmina slave castle (Ghana): Black and white stairs in Elmina slave castle

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