The slave trade history is a very long and sad one. Everybody knows that
the slaves were coming from Africa. Let's get to know a short part of
this hard story by learning about some Ghanean slaves in Cape Coast. Cape
Coast Castle was built by the British in 1665 and it took 50 years of
work. For the construction wood, marble and other building materials were
imported from England. The country had got a lot of gold as a result it
was called "Gold Coast". At that time Cape Coast was the first capital.
in 1877, the capital was moved to Accra because of economical and political
There was an important
slave trade on the West Coast (Benin, Ghana and Ivory Coast). The British
brought their products and swapped them for slaves. The latter were criminals,
prisoners of tribal wars and particularly strong men. Their main destination
was America. Between the 17th and the 19th century the slave trade had
been very important on this coast. Indeed, the number of slaves deported
from Africa is broadly 15 million of persons. It's only in 1807 that the
British abolished the slave trade in England. Before that, slaves were
caught in majority in the North. As there were not any transports, they
walked to the South. The journey was very hard and dangerous, some of
them died of exhaustion and because from attacks from wild animals. Once
arrived in Cape Coast castle, slaves were put in chains , branded and
parked in donjons. Females were less numerous than males. Moreover they
were separated. In the donjons people were coming from different ethnic
groups therefore they couldn't communicate. In addition many of them died
of diseases like malaria, malnutrition, yellow fever and so on… People
who tried to escape from the castle were put in a special cell and died
of suffocation then they were thrown in the sea. When the boats of the
British arrived the slaves passed into a tunnel and went directly into
In the male slave
donjon around 1000 persons lived inside. This number was really enormous
in view of the fact that the donjon looked very small to contain these
male slaves. In spite of its being small, the British put them in this
donjon and chained them up to the wall; These male slaves who came from
different ethnic groups walked barefooted from their villages up to Cape
Coast Castle. They had to relieve themselves on the floor. For that the
British built gutters in order to evacuate their faeces and their urines.
For the ventilation , there was only a small window. There was also a
small hole in the wall , so that the British can spy slaves' conversations.
Historical dates : 1807 : slavery was abolished in England 1833 : slavery
was abolished in all British colonies 1855 : slavery was still carried
out in secret 1957 : independence of Ghana In Cape Coast Castle there
were black cannons and cannonballs on the floor which allowed the British
to protect themselves against pirates : the Dutch, the Danish and the
The slaves had very
bad life conditions in Cape Coast Castle but the British had some comfort.
First, in the courtyard there is a well with pore water to clean the British
part and to cook. Secondly, the floor of the British passage was made
with marble which came from Italy because there was no marble in England.
Finally there were
two very important men to be buried in Cape Coast Castle. Philip Ouapo
and George Mackley. Philip Ouapo, an Anglican pastor , was the first Ghanean
to be trained in England. He set up the first school for children of African
women and European men. Unfortunately he died in 1816 (October 17th).
The second was George Mackley who was governor of the fort. He was Scottish
and his wife Leaticia Elizabeth was British. Today, the castle has become
an important place for the people who want to know more about their origins.
That is why the state decided to clean the donjon in 1974.
In my opinion the
visit of the castle was not only the most interesting but also the most
moving. Indeed I learned a lot about African history. Moreover I was shocked
by the people's conditions of detention as soon as I came into the donjons
and also by the way they killed people into the cell. I felt sad and very
angry when I realized that these slaves were my ancestors? During the
visit the more I learnt about the slave trade, the more I was aware of
the disaster of this scourge. In spite of my knowing that "white people"
were not the only guilty ones I felt a little hatred for them. Finally
by passing through the 'Door of no return" I had a thought for all black
people who left without having been able to come back again.
First of all I was
shocked by the living conditions of the slaves. Genuinely it was infamous.
I imagine their sufferings; Then, I wonder really who was in the wrong
in all that.. Indeed I believe it came from our African kings who accepted
to exchange our brothers against goods. They thought only to get rich
. What the slaves became was not their problem. , they could die. But
if the African kings had refused to exchange our brothers against goods,
I think that we would not have witnessed what we call today "the triangular
trade". But the deed has already been done. We can't draw back. Now, we
must see to it that this phenomenon never comes back again.