Wednesday, 13 February 2008

The History Tour Part II

A dozen kilometres away from Cape Coast lies Elmina. And there the oldest European building in Africa. Or maybe I heard that wrong during the tour. Well at any rate Elmina Castle houses the first Christian church to be built in Ghana.

What happened there a bit later wasn't at all Christian. More slaves were shipped off around the world.

The guide told us that the governor had a balcony from which he could select the best looking ladies. They would then be ushered up a ladder and into his chambers. Various forms of torture were explained to us so that dissent was minimised.

We were also shown the cell for unruly European soldiers. It had light and ventilation. The cell for miscreant slaves was altogether more macabre. The Dutch put a skull and crossbones above the door. You knew it was goodbye cruel world.

As we were being shown round, Mark, the guide, told us that the slaves came from all over. From as far away as Tamale and Kumasi. It took them nearly two months to walk the distance.

I nearly said it takes that long to drive the distance. But the idiot within was suppressed. This was not a place for levity.

Which made me wonder what on earth was I doing? I've had two days and two castles with stories of despair and degradation.

Is this my way of earning a few days on the beach with a book?

The Bridge House Hotel, where I'm staying, is wonderfully located. It overlooks the castle and the vibrant fish market.

I started a stroll through the fish market but got out quickly after narrowly avoiding bits of slops nonchalantly thrown towards the water by women skinning and decapitating the catches.

Local colour excites me only up to a point. If the shorts are sullied with bits of snapper and the like, then my wardrobe will suffer.

In view of all that I've seen recently, it seems so effete.

It must be time for the beach.