Day 6 – Saturday May 14
Llack of sleep is my biggest enemy at this point. Between weird jet lag, waking up early, and even accidentally early-early, has made me feel lethargic and sluggish. However, with the help of beautiful scenery and new interesting experiences my sleepy appearance masked excitement and drive to explore.
Although sometimes, especially when waking up in the early mornings, I felt like falling over and passing out for a while to rest my heavy eyes. This was no excuse not to run with Sammy who was also struggling with her own barrage of illnesses. This morning we ran with one of the girls from Proworld we met the day before. She, I think, was expecting to go out on a good long run as she is a marathon runner, and we are the Wayne State cross country team. However Sammy, in her condition which seemed pretty bad at the time, asked me if I would mind going a shorter distance today. Barely able to see her through my eyes that so badly wanted to close, I had no problem agreeing. We had a nice three- mile run, and everyone seemed to be good with that.
The rest of the day led to probably one of the most significant parts of the entire trip. We visited Assin Manso. better known as the slave river walk. Here we learned some of the history, saw the sights, and felt the path that 25 million slaves had passed. After acquiring a brief history by our tour guide, we took off our shoes and walked down the last stretch of trail the slaves walked before they took their last bath. Oh, the horrors that took place in history. People robbed from their homes and communities to be enslaved, raped, and beaten on a journey so terrible, many committed suicide rather than continue to a world where they could only imagine would be worse than what they have already seen from their capturers.
With chains and cannonballs attached to their necks, hands, and waist, they marched miles upon miles… only able to eat what they could grab… only able to wash with prickley rough leaves.,, only able to remain obedient as the alternative meant torture or death.
Leaving this place with knots in our stomachs and prayers on our hearts, we headed to our next part of African history which was ravaged by Western greed. We headed to Elmina Castle for a tour. What we were told and shown really impacted many of the students. We saw the small holding cells where hundreds of slaves were kept. We were told that because of the way they were chained to each other and crammed into the rooms, there was no way to excrete their waste away from the others. Therefore, people were defacating, urinating, hurling, and even bleeding on top of one another. It was explained that the guards would line up the women in the courtyard, and give the governor choice of which one he wanted to have escorted to his quarters and raped
One thing that particularly got my blood pumping was when we were led to one of the larger rooms at the top of the castle, where we learned that it was an area where church services were held to pray for God to be with the slave holders of the castle and the governor. I pray that our Lord has mercy on them for depreciating the value of human life in such horrific ways.
The Castle traded hands many times, and eventually it was aquired by Ghana as a monument to the terror that took place in it. I could go on and on about the things I saw and felt while there. The tour guide finished his tour by saying some final words about the castle, slavery, and finely something I did not expect. He made it clear that he did not blame American people, or any other nation that enslaved Ghana or other parts of Africa. He felt that it was the people of our past, and not me, the students of my group, or anyone in the current world (mostly) who enslaved the African people, and we should not be blamed for their wrong doings.
This was comforting, but a little strange coming from a country which practices Gorovodu, an African religion which prays to slave spirits, among others. The religion comes in part from some Africans “enslaving” or trading their own people. However, enslaving to them was very different and much less brutal than the way we enslaved the Africans. They believe that they need to say they’re sorry for what they have done in the past, and religion, being one of the few things they have in abundance to offer, is what they devote to their wrongdoings in the past. As an American citizen, I was not offered any way of saying sorry for what our past generations did. and although I don’t think we should be blamed for it, we should still do something about it.
Slavery changed the people of Ghana and all of Africa. People see Africa a primitive, but when for generations they have had their working class stripped from their country to advance others, it is no wonder they have not been able to “keep up.” Now in a world where slavery is just something written in the history books, Africa is still suffering a major blow from that era, and it will take much time, energy, and of course money before it can ever grow to become what it always could have been.
For more on what I have to say about my thought of slavery click HERE
For what one of my fellow classmates felt about the experience click HERE
Leaving the castle, I was filled with emotion and empathy for the Ghanian people, and people of dark skin. As we left the castle, there were women sitting in the entrance way who I exchanged some kind words with, and we kissed cheeks. I felt happy to feel joy like that after what I had seen and heard inside the castle.
However, feelings changed with the moment as hustlers began to approach those exiting the castle. Encountering them on the way in. Coming out of the castle I remember first feeling a little frustrated to see the merchants coming up to reattempting to sell me their items. Just then, I remembered our brief lesson on haggling with the natives, and I got excited to see if I would be any good at it. As the first wave of merchants approached, they showed me some interesting bracelets, and one customized with my name. I offered a price for two bracelets, and they agreed. Just as I thought the negotiation was over, another merchant came to me with the biggest seashell I had seen with my name and a note written on it. I was taken back by the level of customization these merchants went through to sell me their goods. I then began to make an offer for the seashell, but our van where everyone had just loaded, started to shout to hurry up. As I tried to make the payment someone from our group started walking towards me and told me not to pay and get on the bus. Feeling bad that I had to make everyone wait, I told the merchants that I had been instructed not to purchase anything and that I had to go. This sent them into an uproar, and also began to scare my group members. In the end, I made it out with a customized embroidered bracelet which, to appease the crazed crowd, I paid twice as much as I should have. This was not the greatest experience, but I would not trade it for another.