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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars


Ghana - 25 November, 2000



Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Kumasi (Presbyterian Church grounds) N0641.307' W00137.278' 331 m  
Cape Coast and slave fort
Elmina and St. George's Castle
Finish Brenu Beach Resort (west of Elmina) N0504.078' W00125.351' 19 m 254 km


11,876 km


Weather: Partly cloudy, sunny and very hot.  Cool in the evening and night.



Daily Journal Entry:

Today was an amazing, interesting and moving day as we went to visit the some of the slave forts that dot the coast of Ghana.  We leave the church grounds in Kumasi shortly before our deadline of 6:30 AM.  As we did not want to have breakfast too early in the morning, we drive until 8 AM, when we stop by the side of the road for a quick breakfast.


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At 10:30 AM, we arrive at Cape Coast and the slave fort located there.  We spend about 2 hours touring the fort.  It is quite an experience and it is very difficult to fully grasp the horrors of what went on here (like when you visit the concentration camps in Europe - you know it is horrible, but there is no way that you can fully appreciate and grasp the pain and suffering and horrors that occurred at these places).


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The slave forts were first built during the 17th century when Danes, British, Portuguese, Germans, French, Swedes and the Dutch were struggling for control of the commerce occurring in this area.  The forts were fought over and would change hands many times during this period.  By the end of the 18th century there were 37 such fortifications on the coast of Ghana.  The forts were initially built as trading posts for the gold and ivory trade, but eventually used as the places where slaves would be stored and branded prior to shipping to the New World.  They are horrible human creations in a place of great beauty.


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We were shown the male dungeons, the female dungeons, the entrance to the church sitting over the male dungeon ventilation shaft (and the wails and sounds of the slaves could be heard as people came to  and were in church), the underground tunnel leading to the door of no return ...


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... where the slaves where taken to the beach be loaded onto the ships to be transported to the New World, ...


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... the condemned prisoners cell which had no light or ventilation holes (where they were left to die from lack of food and water), the governors quarters (which were bigger then the slave cells), ...


Ghana00_Cape_Fort_Courtyard_Cannon_1262_Web.gif (219851 bytes)

... the fortress walls (with all the cannons) and the soldiers quarters.  We took a quick tour through the museum, but had to leave early as we needed to head on to Elmina.


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At Elmina is located St. George's Castle, which is the oldest European structure in sub-Saharan Africa having been built by the Portuguese in 1482.  The Dutch captured the castle in 1637, and held it until 1872 when it was ceded to the British.  The castle was expanded when slaves replaced gold as the prior object of commerce.  The storerooms were converted to dungeons.


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It is a beautiful castle and the contrast between this and the slave trade that was carried out here is jarring.  Prior to touring the castle, we had lunch in a restaurant that has been set up on the castle wall.  It had a great view over the town and its port.  But is was also an uneasy feeling to be sitting there enjoying a drink, the food and the view, when we knew what went on here many years ago (but it was just about the only open restaurant that we could find in town).


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We walked around this fort on our own and saw pretty much all of it - the male and female dungeons, ...


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... the condemned persons cell, ...


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... the magazine, the officers and governors quarters, the church, the fortress walls and the courtyard.


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From Elmina, we drove a short way down the coast to the Brenu Beach Resort, where we stayed for the night.  It is a great little spot on the beach that has been developed with the assistance of international aid organisations, such as USAID and UNDP.  After setting up the campsite, we go for a walk up the beach and watch the sun set as we walk along.


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It is a great sunset and we end up walking to the small town located a short way along the beach.  It is a fishing village, and all the fishing boats are coming in with their day's catch.  We would watch as they approached the surf, put down their sails and rowed in the rest of the way to the beach. When they reached the beach, many villagers would run out to the boat and start the hard job of pulling the boat up the beach.  The would lay down two parallel wooden rails, on which the would lay wooden rollers.  The would then call out a chant, to which they would push the boat up the beach.  As the boat ran up the rollers, they would take the rollers from the back, and bring them to the front of the boat to continue the process.  It was great team work.


Ghana00_Brenu1_Sunset_1321_Web.gif (195462 bytes)

After watching this for a while, we headed back to the campsite.  After a quick drink at the bar, we have a great fish and rice dinner - this is the last night a cook group will be cooking for this leg of the trip.


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After relaxing on the beach for a while, we take a shower and are in our tent by 10 PM.





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