Sunday, October 3, 2010

Cape Coast & Rainforest Canopy Walk

Even though we left before 7am, it still took an hour to get out of Accra thanks to the permanent traffic in the city.  Three hours later we made it to Cape Coast and the huge fortress that was the point of no return for hundred of thousands of Africans shipped out as slaves.  The Cape Coast Castle is now a museum and popular tourist destination for millions of visitors despite its terrible past.

We started by visiting the museum and its collection of artifacts from Ghana's past.  They have a good display that explains a lot about the culture and daily life for Ghanians.  Then there is a larger section dedicated to the slave trade and how Africans and Europeans were enriched through the trade triangle.  I thought it was interesting that christian church leader in that time period advocated the importation of African slaves to the Americas as the Native Americans were too weak and dieing due to the European diseases.  The African slaves were recognized as much stronger, healthier, and disease resistant and therefore a better source of labor.  The Europeans gave weapons freely to the local African leaders to help them in their tribal wars and then accepted the prisoners of wars the Africans captured as slaves.

The most significant part of the tour to me was the visit to the dungeons or slave holding areas where they slaves were usually held for a minimum of four months while they were waiting to be loaded onto the westward bound ships.  Upwards of a thousand slaves could be held at a time with almost no light and a narrow channel gouged into the stone floor for the human waste to evacuate down the large chamber into the sea.  The unruly slaves were packed in a smaller chamber that measured about 20ft by 10ft, but held up to 200 at a time.  When the building was being renovated several years ago, excavators had to dig through two feet of human waste to reach the stone floor underneath.  A tunnel at the end of the large holding chamber where the main population of the slaves were held led to the door of no return and the ships waiting offshore.  Now that tunnel is blocked by a monument to represent the end of the slave trade.  The rest of the tour focuses on the white living quarters and the church above the dungeons and was anti-climatic to me.

After lunch, we drove out to Kakum National Park- a tropical rain forest that features the 1/4 mile long canopy walk, a narrow rope bridge suspended 120ft above the ground.  The bridge is hung in a circular route consisting of eight segments tied to huge trees.  12 inch wide planks form the walking surface and every movement and breeze makes the bridge swing.  It was a pretty cool view, but we couldn't see any animals or hardly even the ground through the thick trees.  

After sliding down the hill from the tree top platforms and walkways we drove two more hours back to Accra in order to fight another two hours to get back to our hotel.  Accra seems like a great place, but the traffic sucks!

1 comment:

  1. it is hard to imagine such atrocities can go on even now. it really goes to show how strong the human spirit really is.