Nana kwamena Ansah VI was the first King In History to welcome a fleet of white people (European ) on board. The king welcome the the Whiteman and his more than 2000 troops and workers to built a temporal place to live and trade. The king gave them huge land and they started giving the people alcohol and spices and return of their gold.
These were the Gold Coast itself, Ashanti, the Northern Territories protectorate and the British Togoland trust territory. The first European explorers to arrive at the coast were the Portuguese in 1471.
On January 19, 1482, during the reign of the sixth chief of the land, Nana KwamenaKweiyga Ansah, the Portuguese in a fleet of twelve ships full of building materials and six hundred workmen under captain Don Diego d’Azambuja came to negotiate for a piece of land and to build a fort, which eventually became the castle .
Built by the Portuguese in 1482 as a trading post, the castle, which is four hours away from Accra by taxi, was the biggest slave detention facility in Africa.
Humid and heavy air, roam inside this monument of the worst form of human abuse. Additionally, it is a gothic site synonymous with near-decaying walls with peeling-off paint.
Yes, thousands of souls were lost and millions of men and women detained here, before getting herded on ships to slave markets across the world.
A narrow passageway ushers you to the castle’s tired-looking worn-out courtyard which, like the outer part of the building, is algae covered, emphasising suffering and wails of those unfortunate to have gone through it centuries ago.
Like captives desperately praying for a miracle to rescue them, the building sort of cries out for a fresh coat of paint to liven it up.
However, keeping it in its current state enables visitors to relive the sad memories and suffering the captives underwent.
I had heard horrifying stories about Senegal’s Goree Island slave detention facility and Ghana’s Cape Coast and other two slave castles, but the tales from our guide, Koffi, instigated deeper feelings in me.
Some other tourists would clench and unclench their palms, seething anger as the tales unfolded.
The Castle of Shame
The tour of the ‘Castle of Shame’ takes you through its three courtyards, including a governor’s chamber on the first floor, which has the main, the inner and the service courtyards.
Notably, on the ground floor on the right are two cells: one was for jailing European offenders while the other was for slave ‘trouble-makers’.
The cell for slaves, with a picture of a human skull and crossbones above the door, was the condemned section for captives who fought for their freedom.
With a twinge of sadness in his voice, Koffi says the ringleaders of mutinous slaves would be shackled and confined in the pitch-dark cell and starved to death.
As our guide narrates the nerve-wrecking story, a few people who had asked to be locked in the cell to have a feel of it quickly ask to be let out.
“Open for us please, we can’t see. It’s horrifying. Please open,” they chorus.
Interestingly, Europeans who raped African women were jailed a mere four hours.
Koffi says the women slaves who misbehaved were punished by tying a 25kg iron metal ball around their waists for hours.
“What? Oh my God! These people were monsters. How could they torture a woman like that…,” some of the ladies exclaim.
Most slaves were raided from Nigeria, Ghana, Niger, Benin, Ivory Coast and Mali. Others were war prisoners sold to slavers by the local chiefs.
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