In 2010, my family and I were in Ghana to submit our second application for the Federal Skilled Workers visa at the Canadian Embassy in Ghana.
We sized the opportunity to visit some historical sites in Ghana. Elmina Castle was one of them.
Jamila White wrote about the infamous Castle. “Built in 1482 by Portuguese traders, Elmina Castle was the first European slave-trading post in all of sub-saharan Africa. Elmina, like other West African slave fortresses, housed luxury suites for the Europeans in the upper levels. The slave dungeons below were cramped and filthy, each cell often housing as many as 200 people at a time, without enough space to even lie down. The floor of the dungeon, as a result of centuries of impacted filth and human excrement, is now several inches higher than it was when it was built. Outbreaks of malaria and yellow fever were common. Staircases led directly from the governor’s chambers to the women’s dungeons below, making it easy for him to select personal concubines from amongst the women.”
“At the seaboard side of the castle was the Door of No Return, the infamous portal through which slaves boarded the ships that would take them on the treacherous journey across the Atlantic known as the Middle Passage.”
I recall that our tour guide shared a striking story of how many who were enslaved there found it difficult to believe that they were indeed free when the slave trade was over. For a while, many stayed back.
There were a few reasons.
As horrible as things were in the slave castle, many could not imagine another life outside their inhuman realities in the castle. For some, they were born there and knew no other world. Some had tried to escape multiple times and had been so punished, they were fearful that the news of freedom might be a trap.
They were free, but the Castle now lived inside them.
Therefore, they remained in bondage to their own minds and had become their own slave masters.
Life challenges, like slavery, have their greatest negative impact on our minds and, unless we intentionally seek healing, we become eternal slaves to these life bumps long after the physical problems are resolved.
It’s a subtle but powerful battle for our minds.
Stay on guard, the journey of life is filled with many Elmina Castles.
And yes, “may those who died (in the castle and in the journey of life) rest in peace. May those who returned find their roots. May humanity never again perpetrate such injustice against humanity. We the living vow to uphold this.”
Written by Dapo Bankole.
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