One of the most famous sites in Ghana is the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum in downtown Accra. Our group went there one sunny afternoon to see the memorial dedicated to Ghana’s first prime minister. It’s a beautiful structure with a museum located next to it.
Where the actual grave is located
A statue of Dr. Nkrumah himself
After taking in this important part of Ghana’s culture, the next day we got into our bus and headed to the town of Cape Coast. This is where we visited Cape Coast Castle, one of several slave castles built by European traders and another integral part of Ghanaian culture. We saw where slaves were kept and learned the horrible conditions they endured. It was an emotional experience.
The buildings look beautiful on the outside, but we were taken to where the slaves were kept underground in the basement-like area. It was so dark that the pictures I took do not capture just how small and crowded the rooms were. It’s indescribable to stand where slaves stood, wishing you could go back and take away their suffering.
On a lighter note, some children were playing on the beach near the castle. One little boy wandered into the museum part of the castle and walked through with us. Of the twenty-or-so people that were in our group, he decided to stick with me. I didn’t mind it at all; he was so sweet. That particular day, the heat and the Ghanaian food were both getting to me and I felt sick. The boy sat down in a chair and scooted over, motioning me to sit next to him, unaware that I was even feeling badly. So I sat, grateful for his kindness. He then stared at me and gently touched my hair. Accustomed to straightening my hair everyday, I was still getting used to keeping it in its natural state. Given how I felt that day, I was not expecting his reaction. He looked at me in awe and said, “It’s beautiful.”
I know it’s a small moment, but the interaction with this little boy was so important to me. Getting away from the American standard of beauty for awhile was nice, and for someone, even a child, to think of me as beautiful was uplifting. My group members also complimented me on my natural wavy hair throughout the trip, and now I wear it naturally some days. Travel will change you, even in little ways (like becoming more comfortable with your natural hair) or large ones (like seeing how slaves lived and were treated). Either way, it’s a good change to remind you how incredible, captivating, challenging, and beautiful the world really is.
More Ghana stories to come!