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Cameron's Africa Journey: Slave Castles & Craftsmanship

I’ve done so much in the short time that I’ve been in Ghana...
But, one of the most interesting experiences I’ve had since arriving here was my visit to the slave castles of Cape Coast. The castles were an approximately two hour drive from Accra (where I’m staying), but the time in the car was well worth it.

Along the Coast of West Africa, sit about thirty large trading forts called "slave castles.” They were built by European traders starting in the 1650’s and originally housed timber and gold, but were later used in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. This “gate of no return” was the last stop for African slaves before crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

The history and life-stories seemed tangible in every room of the castles. I was humbled by the experience and gained a greater respect for, and connection to, my ancestors who had to endure the hardships of slavery.

I also had the opportunity to visit the city of Kumasi. It’s about six hours away from Accra, and is one of the largest cities in Western Africa. While in Kumasi, I visited several outlying villages. Each village produces a signature commodity; the first was a wood carving village. Here, they created some of the most incredible wood work and art that I have ever seen.

Next we visited an Adinka village where they make Adinka cloth, stamped with handmade ink. I had the opportunity to help in the ink making process by pounding bark (shown in the photo). Another village produced beautifully woven cotton and silk Kente cloth. It was fascinating to watch the craftsman work the machines to wave the brightly colored Kente fabric.

I’m looking forward to beginning my volunteer work this coming week. I’ll be working at the Canadian International after-school program. Specifically, I’ll be running leadership, self esteem, and healthy relationships programs - I can’t wait to get started!

I miss you all so much, but I’m having a great experience here in Ghana. Check back soon - I’ll have another update for you in a few weeks!

Check out some photos of my journey, here:

Cameron Simmons

Colorado State Youth of the Year, 2012
University of Denver Black Student Alliance President, 2013-2014
Daniels Fund Scholar
Cherrington Global Scholar