Ghana’s ‘Year of Return’ is emotional for descendants on both sides of t he slave trade | The World from PRX

As two groups of people separated generations ago are reunited, they’re also confronting their differences.

The World August 23, 2019 · 3:15 PM EDT
Updated on Nov. 29, 2019 · 12:30 PM EST

Editor’s note: This story originally aired on The World earlier this year as part of the series, “400 years: Slavery’s unresolved history.” It was repackaged on the show again on Nov. 29 as part of a special feature over the holidays along with this story.

Over one doorway at Elmina Castle, a former hub of the slave trade in Ghana, a brass plaque reads, “door of no return.” It was the last door that captive Africans went through in Africa before they were boarded onto ships and sold as slaves.

The passage is intentionally narrow, so prisoners had to walk one by one through the near darkness and then into the sudden, blinding sunlight. From there, the captive Africans were chained for months in the packed bowels of ships until they arrived in the Americas, and were enslaved.

Related: ‘Willful amnesia’: How Africans forgot — and remembered — their role in the slave trade

Ampson Hagan, a postdoctoral student in anthropology at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was one of the few Americans on a recent tour at the castle.

“Think about all the work and mental labor that went into constructing this place so that it was efficient. That’s remarkably awful.”

Ampson Hagan

“Think about all the work and mental labor that went into constructing this place so that it was efficient,” he said. “That’s remarkably awful.”

To hear more about the experience of touring the old slave castle, click the audio player below.

Today, some descendants of enslaved people are returning to Ghana, which has declared 2019 the “Year of Return.” It’s an emotional moment, with Africans and African Americans coming at it from different perspectives, and with different hopes.

Many African Americans visiting Ghana are trying to reconnect with their family history and culture from before the slave trade. At the same time, some Ghanaians are attempting to reconcile with people from the African diaspora. Representatives of ethnic groups that participated in the slave trade have recently apologized.

Related:Retracing a slave route in Ghana, 400 years later


Kha-Nu Nation– Jun 22, 2018

“It is a checkered history that happened, and we cannot dwell on the past forever. We’ve said on different platforms — we’ve rendered our apology to our kinsmen who were taken from the coast of West Africa to the diaspora to serve as slaves. We jointly condemn that inhumane treatment that was meted out to them,” Akoto said.

…(read more).

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