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13
Jun

Day Four: Monday

   Posted by: Dean White   in Ghana


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Destinations:

  • Elmina Castle

Purpose: Visit the place where slavery trade existed for over 500 years.

Tomorrow: Training 50 leaders

Highlights from today:

  • Slavery
  • Rain
  • Ride home

 

Quote of the Day: In Ghana, we have a saying, “You are invited.”

 

Elmina Castle

Today we got up early and drove about 4 hours to visit one of three castles that exist in Ghana. The Elmina castle was built in 1482 and was originally used as a barter / trade station for sugar, alcohol and spices. But the original purpose was quickly changed to the dark and horrific place that housed thousands of slaves for trade for over 500 years.  At any given time, 600 men and 400 women were imprisoned, tortured and stripped of every ounce of dignity they carried with them. The men would be packed into the dungeons by the hundreds with minimal space, little food and water, forced to live in incomprehensible conditions in the heat of Africa with the thought that they would eventually be sold, washed like a commodity and then boarded a ship to be sold yet again.  The women were often chained in groups of 5. Often these women were from different areas of Africa and often did not speak the same language.  Then the random group of 5 were put in a dungeon with 20 other sets.  These women 100 women often would die in the tight corridors from the methane gas that resulted from their excrement. As if that was not disgusting enough, wealthy men would peer on from a 3rd story balcony that over looked the woman’s courtyard. They would choose a slave woman they wanted to violate and if she refused or ran away, she would be stripped in the courtyard while her legs were chained to an extremely heavy cannon ball and left in the sun to blister without food or water. If she did not protest, then she would return after her assault to the claustrophobic dungeon with the shame knowing everyone knew what just happened to her. I really don’t know how to grasp the depth of the sorrow nor swallow the truth of this disgusting catastrophe that this existed for over 500 years. There were many ‘Freedom Fighters’ who tried to stop slavery or break in and free the slaves.  Their punishment was imprisonment, torture and often death. In fact, we saw two cells that were side by side. One cell was for those non-blacks who were caught stealing or overly drunk. This cell had a window and was fairly spacious. But those non-blacks who were Freedom Fighters were put in a small dark cell with cross bones above their door. Left with no food and minimal water. Yet as harsh as that may have been it seems so minor compared to the black slaves and the complete harshness they were treated. The castle has a very haunting feeling and as you walk the original slaved walked grounds you can almost hear the cries and screams, smell the rotten mix of feces, blood, bacteria and decay, and see the walls marked from loss of all hope.  How could this be part of our history? How could humans enslave each other & treat each other with such horrific acts of violence. I can’t find a word that would express the depth of the devastation. I was reminded that even today there are people who enslave girls as sex slaves. This is too much for my heart to handle. I don’t want to know this existed nor that things like this still exists.

 

Rain

We drove to a nearby outdoor restaurant that was on the beach. The place was beautiful yet a tropical storm was brewing.  I didn’t feel like eating and then someone said, ‘Dean, didn’t you want to jump into the ocean?’ And …Oh yes I did!  I immediately ran down to the sand, kicked off my shoes, and ran into the ocean. My feet were in the Atlantic Ocean!  More specifically the Gulf of Guinea. The sand was more course than at home and appeared as if there were bits of glass sparkling in the sand that had been made smooth through the years of washing back and forth over the sand and through the waves. And as I began to go a bit father out on the slippery rocks while the waves became more wild, people called me back in.  I was just about to jump to the next rock…bare footed of course.  What were they so worried about?  Strong undercurrent they said.  I didn’t see any strong undercurrent.  Just a few crashing waves and I’ve been in tons of those before.  As I walked back on the sand the bolstering clouds broke free and released a downpour. I stood on the sand, in the warm rain, letting it wash the yuck I was carrying with me from the castle and taking it back out to sea.

 

The Ride Home

We had a long ride home in the tropical storm. Traffic was bad, the roads even worse. The team (we are calling ourselves the Ghana Nine, more about us tomorrow) sang songs, played games like the Ellen DeGeneres iPhone app game (I’m sure you know the one), and spent time sleeping or just in silence.  I reflected on the day.  …I have heard it said that God often breaks before He blesses.  I remember the story of how Jesus took 5 loves and broke them and it then multiplied and fed 5000; that a seed must die first before the new plant or tree births, a muscle only grows if it is first torn, that adversity often creates extraordinary jumps in invention, we only appreciate the warmth after the cold… You get the picture. Even broken pieces of glass thrown into the ocean and washed over and over again with the sand and salt water become smooth beautiful jewels over time.  But what about the black slaves?  Or the Jews in the holocaust, or the Indians that the white man stole their land and introduced them to disease or the Japanese that were imprisoned during WW2, or the young girls who are currently being used and discarded?  How do these broken people get multiplied, how do their broken pieces of their lives become sparkling jewels? I can only hope that one day, as they walk around in Heaven, they sparkle with beauty for all eternity.

 

Thought for the Day

In Ghana people say, “you are invited.” Which means, “Please join me.” And yet it holds a deeper meaning. “Please join me and let’s talk about life, I want to be your friend and hear about you, I want to care about you, let’s laugh and smile together, and I would very much like you to be part of my family.” …would be a more accurate meaning.  The Ghanaian’s have much to be depressed about, their dollar (cedi) is dropping very fast as compared the value of the US dollar, this area was the epicenter of the transatlantic slave trade (it hasn’t even been 100 years yet since slavery has been abolished), most of the roads are dirt, part of Ghana is in the heaviest of diseased areas in Africa, the heat & humidity, high unemployment, etc; and yet the people smile and love to laugh.  They are the first to give a complement and build each other up. “God will bless us or He is good to us,” they often say.  Recently there was oil found off the coast of Ghana.  It was a find that could mean billions of economic growth for Ghana in the range equal to what pours into Dubai. I have my doubts that the money will ever hit the shores of Ghana but that is the American in me talking.  The Ghanaian would say, “If God so wishes …it will come true. That we have life and know Him is more blessing that we could ever imagine. I am simply blessed enough knowing God said to me, …I am invited.”

 

This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 13th, 2017 at 5:58 pm and is filed under Ghana. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 comments so far


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Connie
 1 

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My heart and soul hurts for what you experienced on the tour of the castle. I wept as I envisioned what those precious souls must have endured. You’re right…how can one human being treat another with such cruel, barbaric acts?

What a day you had. From the emotional heart break of 500 years of slavery to seeing the beauty of possibilities through the positive spirit of the Ghanians. I’m sure it’s one you will forever hold in your heart. Thank you for sharing this day with us!

June 13th, 2017 at 10:43 pm

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Debra White
 2 

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Dean, I’ve been reading your post. They are so powerful. I love reading about your experience. Makes me want to be there with you. Your writing is excellent. Love you brother. Continued prayers for you and for the people in Ghana.

June 14th, 2017 at 11:12 am

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