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Experience the Origins of Slavery, Visit West Africa

Between 1482 and 1786, a myriad of castles and forts were erected along the over 500 kilometer-long coastline of Ghana between Keta in the East and Beyin in the west. Back then, Ghana was called the Gold Coast due to its vast quantities of gold, and these strongholds served as fortified trading posts offering protection from other foreign settlers and threats from the African population. Placed strategically as links in the trade routes established by the Portuguese in the 15th century, who were the first settlers on the Gold Coast, the forts thereafter were seized, attacked, exchanged, sold and abandoned during almost four centuries of struggle between European powers for domination over the Gold Coast.

As early as the 1500s, the settlers’ interest turned to the slave trade in light of the growing demand for human labor in the New World (the Americas and the Caribbean). From holding gold, ivory and other wares, the castles gradually imprisoned slaves, who were reduced to yet another commodity. The majestic fortresses along Ghana’s breathtaking coast housed dark dungeons, overflowing with misery and despair, right up until the slave trade was gradually abolished, in turn by each of the colonial powers in the first half of the 1800s. But by this point, the irreversible and immeasurable damage was done, and from West Africa alone it is estimated that six million slaves had been shipped off to other countries. And about 10-15% perished at sea during the so-called Middle Passage, never reaching their final destination.

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