Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Past & Present

The enormous Lake Volta is the most expansive artificial lake in the world and is held back by the Akosombo Dam, inaugurated by the first president, Nkrumah, in 1966. The hydro-electricity produced powers all of Ghana! It is quite a sight.

Our journey towards the coast took us past Assin Manso, the place where the slaves had their last bath in the river. There wasn't much to see but the thought was enough. The bodies of a man from USA and woman from Jamaica were returned here for re-burial in 1998 as a symbolic gesture. There are slave caves up here in the north from where people were shackled and driven all the way south to castles on the coast. These distances don't bear thinking about, especially with bare feet and heavy iron weights around their feet and necks. At Assin Manso after the washing, slaves were polished with shea butter to make them shine and each given a reasonable meal before being labelled ready for auction. The final journey to the coast was a long way in a car, let alone walking.

We joined a tour of Elmina Castle, the oldest European building in W Africa, to find out what conditions were like for the slaves who made it this far. Intensive overcrowding and despicable conditions were described to us as we looked through the "gate of no return".

I later learned from a museum in Accra, some slaves who were eventually given freedom in Brazil returned to Ghana and settled in an area of Accra known as Tabon. I am amazed that anyone had the physical and emotional strength to live through all that and then a journey back home. Some of their descendants have been very influential in the development of Ghana.

The views from the castle showed the fishing industry of Elmina although the weather made for dull photos. A new boat was being carved out of teak on the beach.

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