The air was thick in the condemned cells- where those who fought for their freedom were left to die. The original brick flooring was entirely cloaked in a solid layer of decomposed human waste of those souls condemned. I felt chills and had rushed visions of myself as one of the captured. Elmina and Cape Coast castles housed millions of captured Africans that never saw the outside walls of these places once they were brought in. ‘Illness’ was the word that came to mind as a term to describe the defect in the human condition that allowed people to be treated like animals. Left with no food or water, packed into dark and dank cells that lacked air circulation- millions of humans had their lives taken from them, without even making it onto the slave ships.
Today, you would be harshly punished if you were to do any similar act to a single animal. Frustration understates the emotions that washed over me, as we exited the “door of no return.” This door lead to the ships that took these people away from their homes forever.
Not only was this historic phenomenon disgusting, but its remaining scar has yet to begin healing. Out of this doorway, impoverished settlements lined the beaches that surround the castle.
The slave trade that ran through these two doorways helped build the foundation of the Industrial Revolution – which propelled the economy of America and other Western countries. The debt for this has yet to be repaid or acknowledged. It is not simply a tragedy of history, but a perpetuated lack of responsibility and consideration of the welfare of humanity. I felt personally responsible, not for the acts, but for being one of the seven billion that can make sure nothing like this ever happens again- and is acknowledged in modern culture. I believe if we look for traits of ourselves in others- we will always find compassion.