Would the grandeur of a castle be reserved for slaves? Yes, in the Ghanaian city of Cape Coast, once the capital of what was then known as the Gold Coast was where the first European settled at a place called Elmina.
The Cape Coast castle is one of the biggest slave trade castles in Ghana and contains a very organized and interesting historical museum as well. Its crisp, white paint has since faded into almost grey over the years. The beautiful, orange-tiled roof has since lost much of its colour but the history of centuries ago cannot be easily washed away.
The Cape Coast Castle was built principally for commercial trading purposes, initially between the locals and the Portuguese at “Elmina” (from the Portuguese word mina, meaning a gold mine) and the country, the “Gold Coast,” because of the abundance of gold dusts they found on the land. However, they found something else – slaves.
No symbol of this slave trade is more powerful than the door of no return, which for more than 100 years opened to the certainty of a short and brutal life for the millions of Africans that were captured off these shores and sold into slavery.
It now opens to the serene and awesome vastness of the Atlantic Ocean perhaps pointing to where the salves went and never came back.
Underneath what is now the Cape Coast Centre for National Culture, there are five dungeon chambers for men.
The strongest ones were separated during branding, when hot iron rods were used to mark their chests, and then chained and shackled together in the first chamber. The castle held 1,000 men and 300 women before they were shipped to America, the Caribbean and elsewhere.
The beach beyond is now lined with an extensive slum of wooden shacks and European style colonial-era brick buildings covered with tin roofs.
The black cannons and mortars on a concrete deck facing the ocean and on the rooftops of its towers do not wait to shoot at any invader but instead point to where the natives were forcefully taken. The brick courtyard of the castle has two 18-foot water wells and four graves.
Also nearby are the Portuguese built Elmina Slave Castle, Fort William, and the Fort Victoria to indulge you in about slave trade.