Friday, January 23, 2009

Cape Coast Slave Castle, Ghana

For nearly one hundred and fifty years before abolition in 1807, Cape Coast Castle on the African ‘Gold Coast’ was, in the words of one of its British governors, the grand emporium of the British slave trade. From this handsome building perched on the shore of the South Atlantic Ocean, men, women and children born in Africa were sold as slaves and carried on British slave ships to the West Indies, to North and South America, and to destinations elsewhere. Here the ancestors of millions of people living today in Britain, the United States and many other countries passed through the ‘door of no return’.

In a most original and remarkable book, by telling the story of the castle and of some of the people who lived, worked or were imprisoned within its walls, William St Clair is able to illuminate a vast panorama of modern history, which in its entirety is hard to comprehend.

He draws on an immense archive of records, hitherto hardly explored, agreements with local African leaders, correspondence between colleagues in the Africa Service, letters from home, receipts for the buying and selling of slaves, and scribbled notes sent between the Castle and the slave ships. Bleached by the sun or stained by salt water, these unique writings offer glimpses of events noted down as they happened without hindsight or agenda. In telling the story of Cape Coast Castle, the building, the sea around and its people, St Clair catches for us the sense of actually being there at the time as witnesses. (Source: The Economist Shop)


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