There’s always something new to learn when you travel across the length of breadth of this world, meeting new people, experiencing a new environment, new culture and more. It’s sometimes scary, especially when it totally shocking and seems very strange. Elmina is a town situated in the Central Region of Ghana, a few kilometres away from its Capital, Cape Coast. Located across the coastal belt with an amazing weather and climate experience. The beaches are very clean and suitable for relaxation and comfort, there a few resorts available, but development of the beaches is still limited. Fishing is the main occupation of most folks in the Elmina community, mainly around the popular ELMINA CASTLE
Elmina castle over the past decades has proven to be the focal point for tourism in the Elmina community, it has been listed in the top 10 most visited tourist sites in Ghana over the past five years attracting over 75,000 tourists on the average every year. The Elmina Castle was built by the Portuguese in 1482, eleven years later after they arrived at the Gold Coast. Led by Don Diego D’Azambuja who came along with 600 Soldiers made up of carpenters, masons, etc came to see the then chief of Elmina Nana Kwamena Ansah, negotiated with him and were given the portion of the land on which the Castle stands on today. The Castle is built on Sedimentary Rocks 100 metres beneath the earth and was named after a saint patron in Portugal called St. Georges. There were two main reasons for building the Castle; To protect the trade activities, and also to provide room for their missionary.
However when the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade started, warehouses underground were converted into Dungeons were over 1,000 slaves were kept at a time before being transported to Europe, the Americas and Caribbean Islands. Over the years there were attempts to capture and overthrow the Portuguese from having control over the castle, because it was a strategic point for trade of gold, and slaves. In 1596 and 1625 there were failed attempts by the Dutch to capture the Castle from the Portuguese, but they succeeded on 29th August 1627 taking control of the Castle. These dungeons became the places where male and female slaves were kept before being shipped out to Europe and the Americas.
Elmina Castle defines the cruelty the slave trade came with, showing the pain, suffering and toils of our forefathers. The female dungeon was situated at the West side of the Castle, closer to the Governor’s chamber. On a regular basis the governor came out to watch and select which of female slaves deemed fit to satisfy his pleasure. Females who refused were chained to a very heavy metallic ball and left to suffer in the hot scorching sun.
The Male Dungeon was at the East side of the dungeon, deep down beneath the earth, with a very tight airspace. “Stubborn” slaves were moved to a much tighter chamber until they succumbed. Food and water was provided on a very limited basis.
Research by Archaeologists prove that the Castle is very strong and is able to withstand the sea breeze, Over 500 years now and the only renovations made are the wooden structures which are affected. There is now a museum inside the former chapel, where key historical moments in the history of the Castle and the Elmina People are illustrated in Pictures
Over 400 Years on and the Elmina Castle stands strong, a proper representation of the Art, Lifestyle of the Colonial Era, the good people of the Elmina township and also Ghana as a whole.