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Facing the Past, Moving Towards the Future
an article by Enoch Holu

I was privileged to undertake a project on the history of the Atlantic Slave Trade during my vacation in Ghana this summer. Apart from getting to see my family after two years, the best part of the vacation was the project. I am very grateful to the Wesson Honors Program at Colby-Sawyer College for providing the funds to make the project a success.

A Slave Dungeon at the Cape Coast Castle

click on photo to enlarge

The title of the project was “Tracing an African Trail of Tears.” I come from Gwollu, a small town in the northern border of Ghana. Gwollu is one of the most important towns in the history of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, because it is one of the few towns in Africa to build a well to defend its inhabitants against salve raids during the period of the trade. But before the wall was built, a lot of men, women and children were taken away by African slave raiders who later sold their victims to the European merchants at the coast. The aim of my project was to physically trace the route through which the captives were transported to the coast for shipment to the New World. Along the way, I visited many slave markets and castles.

The interesting thing as I got to all these tourist sites was the variety of tourist; they came from all walks of life. I was particularly fascinated by the reactions of the European and African tourist that I met at the castles. As the tour guide took us around and narrated the inhuman treatment that was meted out to the slave inmates of the castle, I could sense the discomfort among both the African and European tourists. Both groups of tourists felt guilty for the contribution their ancestors made to this horror of human history. At the end of the tour at the Cape Coast Castle when the tourist were asked for final comments, the general consensus was that we should make sure that this never happens again in human history. This was when I realized that these castles provide a platform for both Europeans and Africans alike to face the horrible past of the slave trade and figure out a way forward for all of humanity.


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This report was posted on November 17, 2011.