This World Heritage Site is probably the reason that President Obama is coming to Cape Coast in July. The Cape Coast Castle was historically one of the largest exit-ports for slaves in Africa. The fort was captured by the British in 1665, and re-built into the stone castle that remains today. Prior to colonization, Cape Coast (then known as Oguaa) was a small fishing village. Cape Coast was also the original capital for the British Gold Coast colony as well, but the colonial capital was later moved to Accra, modern Ghana’s capital.
The most memorable aspect of Cape Coast Castle are the slave dungeons; pictures would not convey the grimness of the place, so I didn’t bother to try to take one. At the castle’s seaward exit is the “Door of No Return.” Chained slaves would be taken from the dungeons and loaded into the wooden ships that would take them away from Africa and into a life of slavery in the Americas. As part of the healing process, many contemporary descendents of slaves are visiting Ghana and breaking the chain by re-entering the Cape Coast Castle from the other side (marked “Door of Return”).
Adjacent to the castle was a busy beachfront where boats landed to return with their catch. The boats must have headed out to sea with their nets earlier, for all the boats were now landing. Many people were gathered around the boats, fixing their nets and removing their catch. It was a vibrant scene, showing traces of the original fishing village that was here before Western colonialism and the slave trade — somehow fitting well right next to the Cape Coast Castle.