Much of this holiday was spent revisiting favourite places and sites of particular interest to my visitors. As in previous trips, along the way we stopped to sample food, particularly fruit, new to us. This is a huge velvety pod which is the fruit of the Baobab tree, a dry substance with a taste I’m struggling to describe. It wasn’t especially sweet but not unpleasant. We also found cashew fruit. The nut is clearly visible attached to the fruit. Ghanaians make use of both but I have rarely seen either for sale.
We also saw this amazing lattice fungus on the walk leading to a waterfall.
We managed to enjoy a few days by the beach and took in visits to Cape Coast & Elmina Castles to consolidate my nephew, Victor’s school project about The Slave Trade. Each time I learn something new and even more disturbing. This time, it was explained to us how the slaves walked hundreds of miles through virgin forest over thorny foliage, heavily manacled and shackled. There was no opportunity to stop and remove thorns from their feet and anyway, they couldn’t reach their feet! Such small numbers of people survived the journey south to the coast and the 2 to 3 month existence within the castle dungeons. The narrow drains in the floors were the only feeble attempt to remove all effluent for hundreds of prisoners and corpses were removed infrequently. What a futile waste of life.
Afterwards, as I walked along the beautiful beaches within sight of the castles, I counted my blessings once again and wondered, yet again, at the horrors human beings are capable of inflicting on each other.
I have recently read a novel, “Ama” by Manu Herbstein. It follows the journey of a young girl from the north of Ghana who is captured and eventually transported to Brazil as a slave in the sugar plantations. Many of the places she passes through are familiar to me including the site of her incarceration in Elmina Castle. The background information to the story includes Ghanaian customs and traditions that I recognise and remind me how much I have learned in the last 15 months. Although the eventual buying and transporting of Africans as slaves across the world was the responsibility and shame of white traders, black tribesmen captured and gathered their own people, those of tribal enemies and undesirables within communities and traded them down the country for money or commodities. Evidence of Slave Caves to contain captives can be found around this area in the Upper West.