Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Rainforest and Cape Coast

Hello everyone, These past few days have been crazy but here is an update on what has been going on:

Just finished my first week of classes and think that the language class Twi will be my hardest just because it is so different than anything studied previously in school or heard before. I am excited for the challenge. In my other class Society, Government and Politics we started by learning about  the history of Ghana as well as the slave trade and seeing the impact the Atlantic slave trade has been having on various African countries. Then Thursday we learned more in my dance class and almost completed memorizing a dance. We had a chance to see a dance company performing on our first day of classes. On my second class of dance we saw 3 Ghanaians making drums outside and preparing them to be sold.  Thursday was also the night of the welcome dinner at Villa Victoria, they were really late on serving us about 1.5 hours late, I had a lot of mosquito bites leaving and couldn’t eat dessert because I am allergic to watermelons. Then Friday we left the International Hostel at 9am to go on a city tour of Accra!

At first we were stuck in traffic in Accra but we started by going to go see W.E. Du Bois home in Accra. I learned that he moved to Ghana and helped with their government, society, and other countries as well. He died in Ghana and is buried on the property where his house is located and his wife’s ashes are next to him. Later, we walked through the slums were we saw how the poor lived, worked, and survived in such harsh conditions with waste around them from rotting items, to feces, urine, smoke, chemicals, and still trying to make a living by selling anything from car parts, to onions, to water, to peanuts on the side of the road. These people going about their business trying to sell to us grabbing us to look at their items and consider their goods. It was shocking to see how people live, it made me really think of how fortunate Americans are even when w complain to see how others live and to be able to compare it to our living shows me what I have been blessed with acquiring from privilege and the country I was born in. We saw the memorial of the first president Kwame, his grave, a brief explanation of his impact in the history of Ghana and to know his impact on other African countries as well while he was in exile when he was overturned by his army generals as he was serving as president. Lastly, we went to the Art market and learned the craft of trading were I was able to purchase items for my family and save money as well!


On Friday we left to go to Cape Coast at 8am in took us about 3.5 hours due to traffic on the way out of Accra. We saw the slave castles which was mind blowing and amazing to learn more detailed information about slavery and my roots. It was amazing to know that my ancestors could have very well walked through there as well as know that so many people suffered, died, and fought for freedom whether on the continent of Africa, on the ships, or on the Americans or Caribbean soil. It made me proud to be African American as well as knowledgeable about an important part of our history that explains why we are citizens of our countries. At Cape Coast we started off by going to the Men’s Dungeon where there were 5 chambers. They said that archeologists came a long time ago to see the remains of the castle and do renovations and get this… at first the dungeons were supposed to be held anywhere for 50-150 slaves but in peak season they would hold 300-1500 slaves depending on the time of year! Also, they only had three small holes at the top for ventilation and sunlight. The holes were about 12x12 in size. On the floor originally they fed the slaves 2 times a day and let them outside to exercise and stretch while servants cleaned the rooms, well towards the end of the slave trade to save time they just put down sand to cover the feces and urine which piled up and left a nasty sent. Think of that being piled up for over 300 years!

Then we saw that there was an underground tunnel where they let us stand and we saw that they walked the men down there to  outside where the Door of No Return is, had them on small boats to the big shops 2 miles off shore. They stacked them in 4 levels like sardines and went to the Caribbean islands and Americas to sell them for profit, trade for ivory, gold, goods and rum or other liquor. We also heard that they only wanted slaves 15-35 and if someone had grey hair they would shave them or if it was a young child around 12-15 or as old as 17 depending on how they looked they were kept with the women. Also, they had a chamber for the women were they were held if they were being sold and a separate for if they were bad. They said that European men would rape some of them, if they became pregnant before they left for the ship they would keep them and have the children stay in the castle to learn also so no one in the Americas saw a mixed baby because it would look bad. Also, if a woman was found pregnant on the ship, they’d throw her overboard in the ocean or if they had too many slaves on the boat and couldn’t fit their goods like gold and ivory and liquor they’d throw weak Africans overboard into the ocean.

We saw the ankle, wrist, and neck shackles they used on them. The saddest thing was where they kept angry, fighting, rebellious slave men. It was a room the size of your bedroom, had 3 wooden doors to the outside, no holes, no light, no air. They left them in there for 7-10 days till their souls left their body then would throw them into the ocean! He said they called them rebellious but Africans call them freedom fighters because they gave up their life for their freedom.  There was a lot more I can tell you later if you post on my blog about it!

We stayed at the beautiful resort in Cape Coast on the shores of the Atlantic ocean only a 7 minute walk from my front door of my hotel room which was a cement hut with Air condition, flushing toilets and a working shower! What a treat (seriously it was)! There was a pool, horseback riding, crocodile area, a bar, and so much more. We went into town at Oasis and had dinner, saw a live performance of traditional African dance, and had great food! After we went back to the hotel and in the morning we were served breakfast buffet style on the shore of the beach! We then left to go to the rainforest area to do the canopy walk.

This canopy walk had been making me nervous all week but when we arrived we were given name tags an passes and started our short .5 mile hike to the canopies and given explanation that this rainforest once stretched from Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Guinea, and the Ivory Coast. It now is much smaller do to countries developing and cutting down the forest for the lumbar and for manufacturing goods like rubber and what not. The canopy was several hundred feet above the ground. I have never been so scared in my life and I crossed bridge 1 and then took the left one to the exit still ascended several hundred feet while many others continued to the other 7 bridges! I was proud I was able to do those small 2.5 but I can say that will be my first and last time being that far off the ground unless I am in a plane. 

We then made our way back to campus, next weekend we will be going to the Beach on Sunday.  If you have more questions let me know!

P.S. Happy Father’s Day! ( in Ghana they say this to all males because of their potential to be fathers to others or in the future)

-Alexandria Doss


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