Following the ancient slave routes, seeking understanding in Ghana

Wanting to know more about the conditions of women in Africa during the time of slave trading, I decided to follow the slave trade route in Ghana, West Africa.  I visited the prisons along the Gold Coast where the slaves were held. I could not believe the horrific conditions and the suffering that was endured by women and men kept in these prisons. Kept in rooms that were so crowded that they had no personal space, young women were raped by guards and overseers.

Vegetables and staples in Ghana
Vegetables and staples in Ghana

I was appalled at the greed of humanity that would condone slavery and consider these people as objects to be used, bought, and sold.  I personally felt violated!  I was even more appalled to visit the interior camps where the captives, men and women, were held during marches of over 400 miles of grueling territory – naked and barefoot.

How has slavery left a mark on the women of today?  Along the coastal areas, I could feel the resentment of women towards me- a white female with a camera.  They were distrusting and feeling “somewhat violated” again, even after a few hundred years of time passing.  It made me feel uncomfortable and deeply self-conscious as though I had personally been responsible for their suffering in some way.  But, I understood their distrust after having visited the slave camps.

Former slave prison, Elmina Castle, Ghana

That type of history does not just wash away, especially since the castles and the forts which held the slaves are there as stone reminders.  I cannot imagine what humiliation and hardships they endured.  Following the slave route in Ghana left me with a chilling reminder of what the ancestors of our present day African Americans might have gone through.