Slave Tourism: African-Americans Travel to Ghana to See an Ugly Past

Julia Vitullo-Martin, Latitude News, September 2, 2012

Ghana’s Cape Coast Castle shimmers serenely in its whitewashed beauty. It is hard to exaggerate the castle’s breathtaking architectural majesty. Yet it, like Ghana’s 30-odd medieval slave forts, once housed almost unimaginable evil: thousands of captured Africans were packed, with little food or water, into grossly overcrowded dungeons, awaiting the terrible voyage to the New World—the notorious Middle Passage.

Yet the Slave Coast, starting point for almost 6.5 million (16 percent) of American slaves between 1690 and 1807, is becoming an unusual tourist destination. The Obama family went to Cape Coast Castle in 2009, in part because First Lady Michelle Obama’s family lore holds that it was the last point in Africa seen by her great-great-great-grandfather before he was sent to the Virginia slave market. Frommer’s named Ghana one of the top tourist destinations for 2012.

{snip}

African-American travelers, who as a group spend over $40 billion on domestic and international travel annually, have increasingly been traveling to Africa.  While Ghana does not hold sole claim to the landmarks of the slave trade and the African-American diaspora, its historic role was significant, says Professor Ishmael Mensah, Lecturer at the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, University of Cape Coast. Of the roughly 65,000 Americans who visit Ghana annually, says Mensah, about one-third, or 22,000, are African Americans.

{snip}

Ghanaians who live on the coast—in the shadow of the castles—are deeply ambivalent about the castles themselves, says Emmanuel K. Akyeampong, a native Ghanaian who is now Professor of History and Professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard. “Many people living in the coastal communities are dependent on tourism for their livelihood, but it is a tourism that emphasizes a profoundly disturbing history,” he says.

The Akan people make up the ethnic majority in both Ghana and the Ivory Coast.

Akyeampong says, “Especially among the Akan—and I’m Akan—there’s always been a reluctance to talk about slavery or make reference to people’s ancestry, at least partly because of Akan history and the Akan absorption of large numbers of people of unfree origin.”

One practical problem, our driver told us, is that African Americans arrive in Ghana happy and expectant—but often leave the Cape Coast forts angry and even hostile. “Before they hit the forts,” he said, “they’re generous tippers. Afterwards, not so much.”

Indeed, it’s hard to stay cheerful after a tour of the dungeons—accurately called “slave holes” by the Europeans. The stench of the women’s dungeon at Elmina Castle is so overpowering, even 150 years after it was last used, that I had to excuse myself and walk up into the sunshine.

{snip}

Paula D. Royster didn’t tip her guide after her tour of Cape Coast Castle. The guide asked her why.

“You didn’t tell the rest of the story,” she recalls saying. “You didn’t tell how they got here. You didn’t say what happened once they got on those ships.”

Royster is President and CEO of the Centre for African American Genealogical Research (CAAGRI), a Virginia-based nonprofit organization dedicated to reuniting as many African and African-descended families as possible through genealogical research. It maintains an office in Princes Town, on Ghana’s coast.

“How could a small number of Europeans come here and transport millions of people abroad?” Royster asks. “We know the answer. The whole well-orchestrated effort was done with Africans. The Ashanti Kingdom alone became wealthy and powerful built on its participation in the slave trade. And African kings continued to sell Africans into slavery long after slave trading had been abolished by all countries.”

Visitors like Royster are one reason why Aykeampong believes Diaspora tourism has been good for Ghana. “Since the early 1990s, when many African Americans started coming on slave-route tourism, we’ve been changed by their eagerness to engage Ghanaians about this history of humanity, greed and capitalism,” he says. “The castles force you to think about something Henry Louis Gates addresses—African participation. Africans sold Africans.”

Indeed, the castles force you to ponder how the slave trade worked. African-Americans who come to Ghana to commemorate and honor their heritage may instead ask, as did a middle-aged black man on our tour: “Who brought the slaves to this fort from the interior?” The guide said he would talk about that later—for the moment he was talking about the Europeans.

Similar questions plagued the renowned African-American writer Richard Wright on his 1954 trip to Ghana. In his book, Black Power, he wrote, “But am I African? Had some of my ancestors sold their relatives to white men? What would my feelings be when I looked into the black face of an African, feeling that maybe his great-great-great-great grandfather had sold my great-great-great grandfather into slavery?” He was never able to resolve these conflicts, writing later, “I am the progeny of the captives, I am the vestige of the dead.”

{snip}

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  • Church_of_Jed

    They tip less after they visit the slave forts,

    which doesn’t bother us, because most of the White girls working as waitresses around here all date the n’gro black buck Diversity, so we just don’t care.

    • Oil Can Harry

      Blacks tip less after seeing slave forts?

      In that case there must be slave forts in front of every restaurant in America.

    • whiteuncleruckus

      im sorry to hear that. i was really hoping only white girls in my area dated africans. once at a resturant i saw a white man paying for his daughter to eat a meal with her black boyfriend. it was one of the saddest things ive ever seen in my life.

      • Church_of_Jed

        It was sad, but it was the future…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_SGDRDPUZLH2ESKW6LEVJY7UXZQ Robert

    No doubt about it.  Calling white people “racist” pays better than pointing to past, present and future black and muslim slave owners.

  • ncpride

     “Who brought the slaves to this fort from the interior?” The guide said he would talk about that later—for the moment he was talking about the Europeans.

    Of course he was. It would not surprise me one bit if this is the first time many of these ‘tourists’ ever heard the truth about the slave trade. After all, I can remember as far back as Elementary school being given the impression that Whites ran through the wilds of Africa, knocking them on the head and taking them for slaves. What a shock to learn their own people were largely complicit as well.

    • TomIron361

      Actually, one of the first african presidents in africa (Sekou Toure) wanted to erect a statue to the mosquito that carried malaria for keeping White people out of his country.

  • TomIron361

    Is it ever taught in our schools that there were free black slave owners in the ante-bellum south???

    • Ed_NY

      I was never taught in school that there were free black slave owners.  Of course, I am very privledged to be the product of diversity (forced busing) and there was never any mention of black complicity on either side of the Atlantic.  If I am not mistaken, the first time I ever heard about black slave owners was from Paul Harvey when he said “and that’s the rest of the story.”

      • KD_Did

        True story…..I was teaching an 8th grade American History class in a diverse school. I DID bring this up while teaching. I taught the truth…. Many students didnt like to hear it. One time I joked that the Europeans weren’t fast enough to catch them.  I was in the principal’s office the next day for a discussion. Guess what race she was. 

  • Defiant White

    QUOTE:  The stench of the women’s dungeon at Elmina Castle is so overpowering, even 150 years after it was last used, that I had to excuse myself and walk up into the sunshine.

    Yes, there is something about the black stench that is extremely powerful.  Nothing much has changed.  Walk past any bathroom or locker room in an all-black school and see what I mean.

    But the most over-powering stench is that of “black studies” which tends to focus on what happened after they boarded ships.  Except when trying to claim they built the Pyramids, most blacks choose to ignore what really happened in Africa:  that some tribes sold other tribes.

    Not much has changed there either. Crips and Bloods killing each other is identical to one tribe selling another.

    WNs can learn from history:  The way to deal with the American black problem is to get some American blacks to deal with others. 

    • The__Bobster

      150 years? It reminds me of  the John Lewis gem about sharks still following the routes of the slave ships.

    • Zora Falla

      Everyone knows white people smell like old moldy bologna! You guys smell like wet dogs!!! Seriously, you never heard that you stink? I thought it was common knowledge.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/7RORAJVG7LJJZECDJIILHJBE7U So CAL Snowman

    Anyone with a warmer than room temperature IQ SHOULD be able to figure out, quite easily, that the white man did not go into the interior of africa to capture slaves.   Logically, the logistics of such an under taking would have been mind boggling.  The insect borne diseases would have been more than enough to keep the Europeans at bay (in large numbers) from going into the interior.  Also, just keeping the enslaved blacks ALIVE from the interior to the coast would have been an incredibly hard task for a small crew of European slavers.  Additionally, having very limited knowledge geographically of Africa would have proved to be quite an impediment in going into the interior and rounding up black slaves.  The idea that Europeans could just waltz into Africa and start enslaving hundreds of thousands from the interior is absurd.  But then again must people are incredibly dumbed down and uneducated.

    • Zora Falla

      I think anyone with a basic knowledge of the west African slave trade would agree that Africans tribes did sell their prisoners of war. But did they know Europeans would rape women, men and children; and treat them like animals? In Africa slaves ate at the same dinner table as their slave master. Europeans had indentured servants/slaves; but they did not cut babies out of their stomachs,make it illegal to educate them and hold them in chains for 300 years. America’s wealth was built by slaves on the land stolen from the Native Americans. White slave masters rape their children and were the first deadbeat dads in America. Please stop making excuses for your savagery. White people have robbed, raped, and murdered every other race and nationality!

  • loyalwhitebriton

    Must be terribly disappointing for them, to have their pre-conceived fantasies dashed on the rocks of reality.
    US blacks travel all the way to Ghana, full of excitement about learning how evil whitey is; eagerly anticipating that confirmation of our ‘inherent degeneracy’[sic], only to find out that blacks sold blacks to whites – LOL!
    Maybe the more inquisitive among them will learn that black-on-black slavery was going on for millenia before the white man landed in Africa.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7TUX5FLXPJULCT66AR6TMN2SZM robert g

    “How could a small number of Europeans come here and transport millions of people abroad?” Royster asks.
    _____________

     This is the dirty little secret of the slave trade, blacks complicity in the whole endeavour. Something you won’t ever hear in the history classes either since it would put a huge dent in black “victimization” and would put a damper on their successful attempts to politicize and exploit this “victimization”.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6QKJMQQX4IKTKFO3PRRCVIRWMY I Am Legend

      Will this would blow their victimization rules of order out the window.
       
      “Jews also took an active part in
      the Dutch colonial slave trade; indeed, the bylaws of the Recife and Mauricia
      congregations (1648) included an imposta (Jewish tax) of five soldos for
      each Negro slave a Brazilian Jew purchased from the West Indies Company.
      Slave auctions were postponed if they fell on a Jewish holiday. In Curacao
      in the seventeenth century, as well as in the British colonies of Barbados
      and Jamaica in the eighteenth century, Jewish merchants played a major
      role in the slave trade. In fact, in all the American colonies, whether
      French (Martinique), British, or Dutch, Jewish merchants frequently dominated.

      Jewish Involvement In
      Black Slave Trade
      To The Americas

      By Rabbi Marc Lee Raphael
      2-24-6

      http://rense.com/general69/invo.htm

      • anarchyst

        A parallel situation existed with the jewish “holocaust ™”.  It is not well known that hardcore zionists were complicit with the Nazi regime in order to “encourage” jewish emigration to what was known as Palestine.  This is not a joke.  Much of the hardships that jews suffered under the Nazi regime were a direct result of marginalization that was encouraged by zionists themselves.
        This is the little jewish secret about the “holocaust ™” that parallels the black Africans selling their own kind into slavery.

  • crystal evans

    I wonder if they tip as bad when they go to the Bahamas and see the slave forts there?

    • http://twitter.com/baldowl baldowl

       I wasn’t aware there was an amount below zero, which is usually what black tips amount to.

      • The__Bobster

        Hell, they usually find fault “wif sumpfin” and then demand a free meal.

  • http://www.newnation.org/ sbuffalonative

    I thought the Ghana ‘Door of No Return’ myth was debunked.

    “Similar questions plagued the renowned African-American writer Richard Wright on his 1954 trip to Ghana. In his book, Black Power, he wrote, “But am I African? Had some of my ancestors sold their relatives to white men? What would my feelings be when I looked into the black face of an African, feeling that maybe his great-great-great-great grandfather had sold my great-great-great grandfather into slavery?” He was never able to resolve these conflicts, writing later, “I am the progeny of the captives, I am the vestige of the dead.”

    The last line says it all.

    Blacks will be forever stuck in the past looking for answers and reasons for their lot in life.

    You can study history and you can learn from history but you can’t change history.

    You can’t move forward if you’re always looking back.

    • bluffcreek1967

      That’s a good point. Blacks are very much stuck in the past, and they relish in being victims. But other racial groups have also encountered great adversity and slavery, and yet they were able to be successful and make great contributions to humanity. Consider the Jewish people for example. Granted, they have high IQs, but they have also suffered immensely and yet they hold no bitterness toward others. As a people, they don’t blame others when they fail at something, and they have overcome every obstacle placed in their way. Moreover, they have made the world a better place not only for themselves, but for all people. I admire them greatly for this. The Jewish people, of course, are not perfect. But neither is any other race or ethnic group of people. The point is, no race of people has to be stuck in its negative past and unable to move beyond what others have done to them. Interestingly though, the slavery of Blacks is not wholly the fault of the White man because Blacks themselves had a significant role in it as this news article suggests.   

      And while it’s true that Blacks, on average, have lower IQs than other races, this is no excuse for their high levels of crime and all the other problems they bring upon themselves. Many obstacles in life can still be overcome by sheer determination and personal discipline,  in spite of having a low IQ. Many of the most successful persons in business throughout the world have not been college educated. Many of them, in fact, did quite poor in school. But in spite of their lack of intellectual acumen, they were able to push through and do something productive with their lives by sheer willpower.

      It’s very hard, however, for Blacks to learn this simple lesson because rarely are they told such truths. Worse yet, very few Blacks model this sort of attitude and behavior among themselves.   

      • http://www.newnation.org/ sbuffalonative

        Another good and relatively recent historical event was how the Irish were treated by the British during the famine. While there are many Irish who still harbor a great resentment toward the British, they didn’t stop their lives, don sac cloth, wail and beat their chests. They moved on. If you ignore the recent world economic down turn, the Irish have built a nation that is thriving (too bad they decided to import Africans. That’s going to come back to haunt them for generations; a senseless, self-inflicted wound).
         
        Also, unlike blacks, some of the Irish who felt they had no hope left Ireland and came to the US.
         
        I always wonder, if blacks believe whites are as bad as they claim (they really don’t. They see us as their only hope and gravy train), why do they demand to live, work, and study among us?

      • BaronBaal

        ” Consider the Jewish people for example. Granted, they have high IQs, but they have also suffered immensely and yet they hold no bitterness toward others.”

        Wow! They don’t? Jews are the most ethnocentric people on the planet and far too many of the hold much bitterness against non-Jews. Maybe you should read an English version of the Talmud (the Jewish holy book) and see what is said about non-Jews in general. It will stun you.

        • anarchyst

          I guess I will have to temper my comments in order to get past the censors here on Amren.  You see, bringing out certain facts about the “tribe” will get your posts removed.
          You are absolutely correct about jewish ethnocentrism (for themselves only–not for us “goyim”).  Their “push” for “multiculturalism” and “diversity” for the rest of us does not endear us to them . . .
          A little-known fact about pre-WW2 Germany is that leading zionists were part of the forced relocation of Europe’s jews.  They collaborated with the Nazis in an attempt to “encourage” emigration to what was then known as Palestine.  Zionists had been planning for a “jewish state” for nearly a century.  As jews occupied top positions in German society, most were reluctant to leave.  Who would give up everything to move to a barren land with an unstable political situation? 
          The unstable political situation in pre-war Germany was also a factor.  The average German (gentile) was barely getting by, due to heavy WW1 “reparations” while seeing his prosperous jewish neighbor benefit by being of the “upper class”.  Add to that the communist element (which was predominantly jewish in nature) and the political instability that it produced; it was easy for the average German to (perhaps unjustly) marginalize his jewish neighbors for their successes.
          The seeds of WW2 were sown after WW1 . . .

          • BaronBaal

            Thanks for the reply. Amren, to me, focuses mainly on the by-product-namely having to live around underachieving blacks and the many problems they bring with them, instead of addressing the root of the problem that whites all across America face, and that is the overall Jewish agenda and the role organised political Jewry has played in dramatically transforming America from a strong homogeneous white society to what we see today. Most telling is Jared Taylor himself. He is well-educated and he knows full well the active role that Jewry has played but he refuses to address the issue. Again, blacks are a byproduct of political Jewish activism that went into full gear in 1965 and focusing on blacks is counterproductive and more or less a waste of time. And if someone like Jared Taylor lacks the courage to face the real oppressors of his people then what’s the point. Have you ever heard of Kevin McDonald of the Occidental Observer. Maybe you should check out his website because it gives a far more intellectual and in depth perspective of Jewish political movements and what these movements have meant to the white race. As for me, I consider myself a casual observer with no animosity or hatred towards anyone but seriously…one would think someone like Jared Taylor who claims to be a “race realist” would at least have the intellectual honesty and courage to address the core issue of what is harming his people instead of going on and on about black behaviour.

      • The__Bobster

        Granted, they have high IQs, but they have also suffered immensely and yet they hold no bitterness toward others.
        __________

        Really? I mean, really? Have you ever been among a bunch of them when they thought they were the only ones in the room? I have.

    • shmo123

       “You can’t move forward if you’re always looking back.”….

      I think I just found a good response to the Obama’s campaign slogan of “forward”…thank you.

    • TomIron361

      Blacks will be forever stuck in the past looking for answers and reasons for their lot in life.
      You can study history and you can learn from history but you can’t change history.
      You can’t move forward if you’re always looking back.
      _____________________________________

      Up to a point, that’s all true. But in the case of black people here, they find themselves trapped in a society that has passed them by with this rampant technology they have no ability to fathom. They’re doomed here. Their only hope is humanitarian repatriation.

  • APaige

    Those Africans were ‘slaves’ before they ever saw a European. Blacks are angry at the buyers not the sellers, even though without the sellers the whole slave trade never could have happened. We should sue African nations for fostering the slave trade, which in the end has destroyed many areas in the U.S.

  • whiteuncleruckus

    The irony is that, as much as they hate slavery, they have no idea it was the best thing that ever happened to their race.

    • The__Bobster

      When Muhammed Ali came back from his boxing match in Rwanda, Africa (Rumble in the Jungle), Howard Cosell asked him what he thought of Africa, land of his ancestors. Ali answered “I’m just glad my grandpappy got on that (slave) boat!”

      • anarchyst

        I REFUSE to call Cassius Clay “muhammed ali”

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7UXENCJU7I43APQJKZIV4DPLOE Michael Mcconnell

    I saw a documentary that sent ‘trouble’ (spoiled) black ‘youths’ who were sent to Africa for a few months.  In the interviews they all said ‘they hate Africa’.

  • John Bonham

     They believe they are OWED that service from the white population..
    Only thing is, I can’t figure out why they give the same amount of tip to the black waitress ..

    • HctSlns

      A long time ago i gave a black waitress just what she deserved for her rude attitude a tip of five cents. 

      • http://popeyes.com/ Harland_Sanderz

        Should have been nothing.

  • John Bonham

     I always love to see women become engaged in this “hating the white man” subject..
    It gives me hope that not all white women are liberally brainwashed…

  • http://www.facebook.com/richard.jalbert.14 Richard Jalbert

    A 150 years and it still smell ?
    What do they store in there in the off-season: carrions ?

  • anonymous_amren

    Tipping is a form of corruption that is unacceptable in some white countries. It is considered like a bribe or like extortion. If the price on a product is $5, people have every right to pay $5. If you want them to pay $5.50, you need to list the price as $5.50.

    When Jared Taylor goes to Sydney, if he pays more than the price on the menu they will just come back with his change. Although the presense of large number of immigrants is probably slowly changing that.

    Black people are actually right (for once) to expect to get the service that they paid for, for no more than the price they were quoted. Although black opposition to tipping would disappear as soon as they were in any job where they could demand tips or bribes.

  • anonymous_amren

    The question is… do they make it stink deliberately, or through traditional African incompetence and laziness? I am confident that other African tourist destinations stink too, even when it is economically counter-productive and keeps tourists away.

    • Zora Falla

      Everyone knows white people smell like old moldy bologna! You guys smell like wet dogs!!!

  • The__Bobster

    No, I don’t remember that expression, as “White” people didn’t bring them here.

    Just where did you hear it?

    http://www.occidentaldissent.com/2012/08/27/caribbean-project-the-jewish-role-in-american-slavery/

  • The__Bobster

    Yes, they captured the slaves themselves, as the White man hadn’t yet developed the cures for the deadly diseases of Africa. That’s why colonialism followed the slave trade many years later.

    • Michael C. Scott

      Correct; the whites stayed on the coast, and still died in droves of yellow fever and malaria.  The quinine-containing bark of the chinchona plant, useful for preventing and treating malaria wasn’t known to Europeans until 1632, and it had no effect on yellow fever, which is viral and not protozoan in nature.  “The White Man’s Graveyard” was the nickname for the coast of the Gulf of Guinea.  Elmina castle, mentioned in the original article was built by Portugal in 1482 from a sort of disassembled “kit” brought down from Portugal in a dozen ships.  It was the first European trading post south of the Sahara.  At the time, it was gold that drew the Portugese – having heard rumours from Arab and Berber traders – not slaves.

      If it was so unhealthy, why was the Gulf of Guinea chosen for the slave trade?  The answer is that unlike farther north in arid Mauretania, there was a fairly large population.  To the south, along the coast of Namibia the surf is too rough; one could land a rowboat ashore, but getting it back out past the breakers is impossible.  This wasn’t a problem in Angola, and some slaves were brought from there, but old Portugese records show a famine cycle every 70 years, and widespread starvation and disease epidemics would kill a third to half the locals making it only an intermittant source of slaves.

  • anonymous_amren

    I was impressed by that video and the level of civilisation it describes. And keep in mind, that was a video made by the white version of gullible superstitious people. The gulf between our religious leaders and their religious leaders is truly astronomical.

  • The__Bobster

    Blame their cheap employers. Without tips, they’d starve.

  • Whirlwinder

    Blacks did not sell anybodys great-great-great-great grandfather into slavery. Islam did. If you cared to study any competent history of slavery, not only in Africa but coming from Europe, India, the Balkans, you would see the dead hand of Islam bringing slavery to the world.

  • The__Bobster

    You DO know that Haley plagiarized that book, don’t you?

    http://www.yourememberthat.com/media/13545/Alex_Haley_Plagiarism_Scandal_1978/

    • MrGJG

       Does anybody not know?

  • ShoutsAtTV

    Must be all those liberal bankers and union bosses that sucked up all that TARP money. I haven’t had a vacation in 15 years!

  • MrGJG

     Muslim/Arabs weren’t the only Semitics overly represented in the slave trade.

  • Ed_NY

    Never happen!

  • Ed_NY

    And let us not forget that slavery exists to this day in black Africa.  Hey, when in Rome……

  • Yorkshireman.

     And this represents the sum total of your knowledge of  ‘the Brits’ and THEIR castles and THEIR habits. Of course, there are absolutely no places in USA where men urinate against walls.  Your visit was obviously a complete waste of time, culturally that is. Better stick to Disney World, a far better source of information for Americans as it must be true!!!

  • David Ashton

    “Niggardly”? 
    Does the Government know about this comment?

  • http://www.amren.com/ Moderator

    John PM has appeared only a few times since AR reformatted and made the switch to Disqus-based commenting at the beginning of this year.

  • Zora Falla

    There is slavery today, and your the slave dummy. I bet you wish their was slavery today, so you could rape more little kids, white guys love that!