Tuesday, November 27, 2012

African Tourists

By Debi
This is from the Castle in Cape Coast at sunset
As promised, here is our post about our activities in Cape Coast over the Thanksgiving Weekend.

First, I have to say again that we had a great time with President and Sister Shulz and the Bybees, and the Asays.  They were so great and they are all very good cooks.  Dinner was just as delicious as if we were home.

Greg and I arrived a day early so we could go and visit a couple of tourist spots. 

We first drove to the Canopy Walk.  It is a national preserve where the forest is an original forest of West Africa and the animals in the forest are protected.  They have built a swinging bridge through the tops of the trees.  It covers quite a large area and the views are spectacular.  I was very worried because I am afraid of heights.  Many people come to the canopy walk and end up having to turn back because they get so afraid.  I decided that no matter how afraid I got I was going to walk the entire distance.  There are technically 7 bridges that span from one very large tree to another.  The tall trees are so much taller than the rest of the forest that it feels like you are walking along the top of the forest.

As I slowly walked out onto the first bridge I realized that I was fine.  It really didn’t feel that high because of the trees below us.  We couldn’t really even see the bottom of the forest.   The views from the bridges were spectacular.  I really felt like I was looking at Africa.  It is hard to feel like we are in Africa when we are in a city.  But here we actually could see the Africa we hoped for. The one disappointing thing was we didn’t see any animals.  The guide said that we would have to come in the evening and night.  They actually have a little grass hut up in the trees that you can stay overnight.  That is a little more up close and personal than I would want to get.  All the snakes of Africa are in that forest and I didn’t want to see any of them.

We also visited the Slave Castle.  I really never wanted to go there but I decided that I should go once and get it over with.  Greg is going to give you the details but let me just say how sad of an experience it was.  It is so hard to think that human beings could do something so horrific as stealing someone from their families and life and selling them into bondage.  During the tour the guide looked at me and asked me if I was all right.  I smiled and said yes but then I said, “NO I am not all right.  This is very upsetting and it is making me feel a little sick.”  The tour guide was very kind to me but there was nothing any of us could do.  This all really happened!

The Sister missionaries went on Wednesday morning to make Batic clothe.  It is a process that the Africans do to make the different designs and colors on their material.  They use basically a cotton fabric.  You can start with a white or any other light color.  You take a mold that has been pre-cut from some thick foam and place the design in hot wax sitting over a fire in the middle of the room.  (I wonder what OSHA would say about these conditions these women work under!) This process is kind of like potato print painting that we use to do as kids.  After the design is printed with wax on the cloth then the cloth is put into a dye.  We chose our own colors.  These ladies made up the dye with a little bit of that and a little bit of this and all of them came out perfectly.

After dying the material you can do another printed pattern with the wax and produce more designs and more colors.  After the whole process they put the material in a boiling pot on a fire outside of the shop and the wax melts away.  It was fun to do and now we all have a very cute table cloth from Africa.

The very favorite thing about the whole process was that we were right on the beach by the ocean.  It was pretty nice and all day I could hear the ocean and smell the salt air.  I loved it.  Up to now we haven’t been able to get too close to the sea. 
We saw this wedding car at the church.  Now this is the right way to decorate a car.  I think the way we nearly ruin a young couple's car is wrong.

We ended our journey Friday night back at our apartment.  In some ways it was hard to come back but in others it felt good to be “home”.
This is our friend, Susan.  She helps us with our produce.  This is a nice stand along the road that we go to at least once, sometimes twice a week.

By Greg:

While in Cape Coast we visited what is called the “Slave Castle”.  There are a string of old forts and castles all along the coast but this one is the most infamous because it was the center of the slave trade.  These castles were fortress to be used as military outposts, warehouses and in this case, holding areas for captives.

We were very sobered by the tour.  They say many Americans, and especially African-Americans, get really upset here.  I think racism is such a sore spot in America, and there is so much guilt over slavery, that this is really a hard thing to think about.

Ghana accepts a big responsibility for all of this.  It was the coastal people who were merchants in slaves.  They had agents who went into the bush and captured people.  They were all Africans.  Sometimes entire villages would be wiped clean.  The young and strong would be taken, and the old and infirmed would be either killed or scattered.  They estimate from about 1600 to 1830 anywhere from 12 to 20 million people were sold into slavery.  Of that, perhaps only a half a million or so ended up in the United States.  The majority went to Brazil and the Caribbean islands.  (The US were successful in internal growth and thus by 1860 there were about 4 million slaves in the US).

The men and women were kept separate.  The men’s dungeon held about 1,000 men.  They could have been held for up tp three months.  Trouble makers were put into another dungeon and starved to death.

The women were raped and abused by the guards and soldiers.  If they became pregnant they were taken out into the village until they had the child.  They were then returned to the castle and the child was placed with the village.  Thus, these coastal villages had a lot of half white children that eventually became part of Ghana.  This could account for the variations in skin color in West Africa.

This is the most tragic part of the tour.  They call this the door of no return.  When it was opened, it led out to the ships.  The captives were shackled and chained and taken out and placed in horrible conditions on what they called the "middle passage". Many of them died crossing the ocean.


President Obama visited here.  Bless his heart!

All of Ghana is fasting Sunday for a peaceful election.  We will join them.  This is not just our church, but all of Ghana.  Peace is so important.

This is one of the many Ghana political parties.  It seems a little familar, but I am not sure what it reminds me of? ha, ha.

(This picture was taken to bring a smile to Spencer Stokes)

This is the African speed limit sign.  Very subtle don't you think?

This is the real plaque of importance.  A pledge by the people of Africa, and by extension by all the world that this will never happen again!

One thing that was fun was on the very beach where the captives were placed on row boats and taken out to the ships in chains, after going through the door of no return, today, happy African children are playing in the Ocean, unafraid and unclothed.


1 comment:

  1. Man they have interesting signs in Ghana. I like that one about speeding! Glad mom survived the slave castle and the heights of the swinging bridges!