This old drawing doesn't show the the Gold Coast in Australia, Long Island or Florida. It depicts Cape Coast Castle on the Gold Coast in Ghana. The gold that gave its name to the Ghanaian coastline wasn’t only the shiny metal from the African hinterland. After the establishment of plantations in the New World it was the money earned from the trade in slaves who supplied the labor that made the plantations of coffee and sugar cane so obscenely profitable.
Ghana hosts two UNESCO World Heritage Sites memorializing this horrific past, Cape Coast Castle and St George’s Castle in Elmina. Our visit to Ghana was a chance to see them. The route led us from the dock in Takoradi, piled high with manganese to be shipped to China, along the coastal road lined with a seemingly endless landscape of tiny shops and stands.
their walk through the Gate of No Return and shipment to the New World or, more likely, death on board a slave ship. It was beyond horrifying. I could not, did not want to, imagine how anyone could survive in such conditions.
Despite this attractive scene we were lost in contemplation of the mindless cruelty always present in human existence.
Unfortunately it is much easier to look at the colorful fishing boats in the nearby port and the lovely flame trees than it is to examine one's soul.
Lest we forget.
Drawings of Cape Coast and St. George's Castles courtesy of hitchock.itc.virginia.edu. Photos by author.