February 22, 2006

Elmima... a European Castle in Africa... Chateau Europeen en Afrique

I left Pakistan on February 16th, and made my way to Accra, Ghana, where I was to meet up with my colleagues and both take the opportunity to rest and to prepare for my next mission to Sierra Leone.

One of my colleagues being local, we took advantage of his knowledge of the area and travelled to the Cape Coast, to Elmima Castle, to visit the most ancient slave trade castle is West Africa.

J'ai quitté le Pakistan le 16 février, et ai fait mon chemin vers Accra, Ghana, où je devais rencontrer mes collègues et prendre l'occasion de me reposer et mee préparer à ma prochaine mission au Sierra Leone.

Un de mes collègues étant locaux, nous avons tiré profit de sa connaissance du secteur et avons voyagé au Cape Coast, au château d'Elmima, pour visiter le plus antique château de commerce l'esclave d'Afrique occidentale.






Leaving Accra, I couldn't resist taking some street pictures. The African ability to make do with anything has always amazed me.

Quittant Accra, je ne pourrais pas résister prendre quelques photos de rue. La capacité africaine de se debrouillerm'a toujours stupéfié.

Apparently, the coast of Ghana is scattered with forts used for the slave trade. The one seen here in the back ground is called Fort Amsterdam.

Apparemment, la côte du Ghana est dispersée de forts autrefois utilisés pour la traite d'esclaves. Celui vu ici en arrière plan s'appelle Fort Amsterdam.


Elmima from afar... at last, I see the sea again ! Elmima is the oldest slave trade castle in West Africa: it's been around for over 500 years.

Elmima de loin... enfin, je revois la mer! Elmima est le château du commerce d'esclave le plus ancien en Afrique occidentale: il existe depuis plus de 500 années.


Let's enter the castle and take a trip in history. Weak hearts, stop your visit here.

Entrons dans le château et voyagons dans l'histoire. Coeurs sensibles, votre visite s'arrete ici.


Elmima's inside yard.... where the slaves arrived the first time.

La cour d' Elmima .... où les esclaves arrivaient la première fois.


Fishermen in Elmima, at the bottom of the castle.

Les pêcheurs d'Elmima, au pied du château.




This is the men's cell. 600 men were chained here, without light, air, or sanitary facilities.

C'est la cellule des hommes. 600 hommes ont été enchaînés ici, sans lumière, air, ou équipements sanitaires.


This is the entrance to the ladies' area. Not very different from that of the men, really, but with the added burden of the repeated rapes perpetrated by the guards and the governor, who apparently took pleasure in choosing his captives personally. Note the cannonbal embedded in the ground. Elmima was the object of quarrels between the Portugese (original founders), the Dutch (who ruled Elmima for centuries) and the English (who had custody of Elmima for 80 years, and after the abolishment of slavery in 1838). Ghana has retaken Elima for a bit over 50 years now, since decolonization.

C'est l'entrée au secteur des dames. Pas très différent des cellules des hommes, vraiment, mais avec le fardeau supplementaire des viols repetes par les gardes et par le gouverneur, qui prenait plaisir a choisir ses captives personnellement. Notez le boulet de canon incursté dans le sol. Elmima était l'objet des querelles entre les Portugais (fondateurs originaux), les Hollandais (qui ont régné sur Elmima pendant des siècles) et les Anglais (dont la suprematie a dure 80 ans, datant d'apres l'abolition de l'esclavage en 1838). Le Ghana a repris Elmima depuis la decolonisation depuis un peu plus de 50 ans.


These canons are still there, as a testament to the Greed of Man, ready to defend their priceless asset in the slave trade.

Ces canons sont toujours là, attestant à l'avarice de l'homme, prête à défendre leurs interets capitaux dans la traite d'esclaves.


The Death Cell: this is the room in which caught escapees were locked to die. 2 dozens of men could be locked here. The only way out was in a coffin. As long as there were survivors, no body would be removed.

La Chambre de la Mort: c'est la cellule dans laquelle les évadés etaient enfermés à clef pour mourir. 2 douzaines d'hommes pouvaient être fermées à clef ici. La seule sortie était dans un cercueil. Aussi longtemps qu'il y avait des survivants, aucun corps n'etait enlevé.


Door of no return: This is the door taken by the survivors, to be taken overseas as slave for plantations of Louisiana, the West Indies, and the Portugese colonies.

La porte de non-retour: C'est la porte prise par les survivants, pour être transportes outre-mer comme esclaves pour des plantations de la Louisiane, des Indes occidentales, et des colonies de Portugese.

This is where the road stops for us today. Soon, pictures from Sierra Leone, a small country in West Africa recovering from civil war, and where hope is very much alive.

C'est ici que la route s'arrête pour nous aujourd'hui. Bientôt, des images de Sierra Leone, un petit pays en Afrique occidentale récupérant de la guerre civile, et où l'espoir est tres vivant.

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

4 comments:

Kingston Girl said...

Seeing photos of those places always makes me shiver. I really want to go and see them myself one day - having seen so much of the impact of slavery on this side of the world, it would be facinating to see where it started... but not sure I could handle it! However, will try one day...

Kingston Girl said...

On another note, enjoy sierra leone! A friend of mine was there for several years with DfID and found it facinating.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Horrific. Thank you very much for the tour. I love learning about things, and I've never seen nor heard of this place before.

Please be careful on your journey as you take us along with you.

Beaver said...

K-Girl, you are stronger then you beleive. Plus, this is no trip to take on your own. I was with close coworkers, which made it much more accessible then going alone...

Saur, I'm sorry I made you worry.... Don't get twitchy unless you see this blog abandonned for months... When I'm in Africa, it's more difficult to update because I have to do it on the job. Then I feel guilty and I have to work at home. Inconvenient, I must admit.

I hope to be able to write more about the history of the region eventually. I'll be hanging around in various countries for the next month or so, hopefully I'll have a chance to write up something.

Thanks for visiting!