My Experience in Elmina Castle Dungeon in Ghana

During March of 2019 I traveled to Ghana for two weeks. Out of all the places that I have traveled, Ghana was a beautiful, rich, emotional rollercoaster and monumental learning experience. This is a journal entry that I wrote that details my thoughts and feelings while touring through the Elmina castle dungeon.

This is grit and the rubbing together of timeless sand and waters. Allow this to do for you as you desire. Enjoy the Journey...

I could not believe what I was walking into.

I remember walking across a bridge leading to the entrance of Elmina castle dungeon. It was an experience that necessitated still moments to myself and I proceeded with minimal expectations. I came to terms that my experience would be wholly emotional, reflective, and challenging altogether.

The castle smelled of the ages, ocean breeze, and stagnant air. The birds overhead circled as if they were ready to swoop down and devour morning prey. A swift glide against the wind and I remember looking up and seeing one hover in the stillness of ocean presence right above my head. Right above the cells – the dungeons- right above this institutional abomination that spills ancestral tears to this day in attempt to fill the ocean where unfilled and water the drying town in its surrounding. I could not make my mind fully accept the fact that this was where my ancestors suffered.

We had started in the female dungeon.

I had never understood stillness until we had walked underground, deeper into the complex into one the cells. There were no lights. no windows. just stone. utter darkness. debris, waste, blood, and flesh covered stone.

Have you ever heard the sound of hollow bones knocking?

I heard it.

I felt it.

Any sound louder than a footstep seemed disrespectful to the multitude that bore witness to the unforgiving stone walls and muffled cries. My chest tightened, my breathing stressed and staggered, my mind in disbelief and engaged in an intense battle for composure. I was hyperventilating in a panic-inhaling sweat and dust. I felt as if I was inhaling silence of the most destitute kind – the silence brought forth under European sheets, and a pale rapist, the silence that lies between moon and horizon, the silence of stone against idle and captive flesh, the silence that exists and by default suffocates fleeting remnants of joy that come from the basic necessities…

Note: the pictures above are not my own. Due to the nature of the visit, I did not find it personally fitting to take photos of the dungeons.

until you go, you will not begin to understand this silence that I speak of. I could see, actively visualize 200 African women, packed, stuffed into a single, dark stone cell. no sanitary items, no means of properly dispelling waste, no means of comfort- an unforgiving dance pain and darkness.

I began to cry. I cried out to God, cried for them, and cried in astonishment that my breath is living testimony of their resilience.

I know that they are gone, but how many were directly related to me? what woman of my lineage – most likely of the Ewe were trapped here and questioned the Creator whether or not she would live to see the other side?

Did she hope for me?

Did she pray in that cell?

How were those prayers?

Were her tears flowing for non-existent?

Did she have children?

Did she look like me?

Do I look like her?

I visualized my own mother in shackles, destitute, hopeless, staying resilient, beaten, worn, tired.

My vision became blurred and I swear I saw the ocean through which those cursed ships traveled.

© 2019 Afroetry Works


  1. Richard Scott

    Kailande, Wow.  Just wow.  I don’t say that to belittle your writing. Quite the opposite.  After reading your post, I’m just in awe; I’m stunned.  All I can think is, “wow.”  That must have been a very powerful visit.  Thank you for sharing. Mr. Scott

    Liked by 1 person

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