Sobering Slave Caves

The El Mina Slave Caves are a sobering walk through a horrific period of human history. For over 300 years Africans, predominantly from Ghana, were kidnapped and forced to endure starvation, physical and sexual abuse, living in their own waste, while incerated. Those who survived were subjected to further inhumanity crammed into ships, shackled with chains, and sent around the world to a life of servitude. Many of these slaves passed through El Mina. The hardship and privation they were subjected to was actually designed to weed out the weak and reveal the strongest among them. Thousands died, or chose to committ suicide. The stench in the holding caves where 600 men were kept apart from the 400 women who were also brought there, was nauseating. And it has been over 200 years since their occupation. I kept asking myself how, on any level of rational thought could this practice be condoned or justified? The tour guide said that the country continues to struggle from the consequences of this human holocaust and the possibly over 50 million people who were ripped away from their homeland. One of the professors is African American and I asked him about his genealogy. He said it is difficult to go back very far because there are few records that still exist about the slaves and their personal information.
This experience has given me cause for much reflection. It’s one thing to read about and be totally aware of slavery. But to walk the same floors where they slept, walked in chains, endured the cruelest inhumanity, wept and often died; has brought with it a reality that begs doing someting, anything to ensure that this kind of atrocity can never be repeated!
As we drove through the crowded streets of El Mina and I looked into the beautiful faces of men, women and children, I was struck by the similarity of that scene that repeats itself all across America everyday. The only difference is the color of their skin. A color that sadly there are those in our modern day still regard as inferior and deserving of condescension and persecution. Gratefully, that mentality is in the minority and hopefully will be snuffed out like the lives it destroyed in the slave caves at El Mina.

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