Elmina Slave Castle!

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Nadiyah Williams

Elmina Castle is a slave castle located in Elmina, Ghana. During the 15th century the Portuguese arrived in Africa by sea to exploit the Africans through slavery. It was built in 1482 by Portuguese traders. During 1485 and 1540 approximately 12,000 slaves were imported from Inkasso, Ahanta, Abrem, Etsi, Tafo, Akani and Mali. On November 23, 2017 I had the opportunity to visit the Elmina Slave Castle. While walking through the dark dungeons where my ancestors were once enslaved my emotions went rampant. I was apoplectic yet at the same time I was melancholic.

There were three dungeons in the castle, a male only dungeon, female only dungeon and a condemn dungeon. The male dungeons where typically 1000 male slaves were crammed into a cramped area with very little space to breath. In the dungeons, the males lived, urinated, defecated, slept and some even died in the dungeon before loading the ship. These slaves were in the dungeons for a minimum of 6 weeks before being transported. 
Women and children were both kept in a small space there were about 900 people crammed into one the same small areas with minimal air to breath. The women enslaved here like their male counterparts also lived, urinated, defecated, slept and even died in the dungeon. Like the male slaves the females and children had to wait about 6 weeks before boarding the slave ship.
The condemn Dungeon was a dungeon where both men and women who refused to follow the Portuguese orders were sent. Here, there was no air therefore the people sent to the condemn dungeon were sent there to die. When it was closed it did not open back up until everyone inside of it was dead. After everyone in the dungeon passed away the Portuguese would simply throw the bodies into the Atlantic Ocean.

Our ancestors were free people until the foreigners came to enslave them. That being said after the minimum of 6 weeks when the slave boats started to arrive, our ancestors had to walk underneath the castle tunnels for about 10 feet depending on where they were located in the slave castle to the door of ” No return”. The door was called “No Return” because after our ancestors walked through those doors they were thrown on a slave ship and sent away to be sold to rich foreigners. After slavery ended on the other side of the door of “No Return” there was a sign put up calling it the door “Of Return” so that when people came to visit Elmina Slave Castle they are able to walk through those very same doors of “No return” our ancestors walked through and walk back through the door “Of Return” for our ancestors return to the freedom we once lost.