We went on a little tour via rickety taxi this week. One of our stops, as planned was the vestiges of a slave camp very near the Burkina Faso- Ghana border. This camp was active in the later 16th century up to about 1840 or so. The truth of the matter is, warfaring tribes captured one another’s people to take to the slave camp. In return they would get ammunition or guns. So this activity was proliferated by the desire to get guns to maintain your power against enemies. The white men were awaiting the arrival on slaves on the coast where they were put on ships destined for a  variety of places ranging form European countries , the  Caribbean and , of course, the the good ol’ U. S. of A.

Below you see the only activity that remotely resembled pleasure. The most musical and mild slaves were forced to entertain the slave-holders  by treating them to drumming on this particular rock that truly resonates beautifully. The songs sung are uplifting and positive for the salve-holders. The dancing adds a festive dimension.

 Drummers demonstrating slave camp ‘entertainment’

As far we we could tell from the information given to us by a guide (whose grandfather passed some of the history to his grandson before passing), in all other respects the slaves were treated worse than any farm animal. They had to grind holes in the rock to make a dish of sort for food and then survival of the fittest on who would eat. They wore no clothes. They were given only enough water, and sometimes not even that. If a slave attempted to escape, the consequence was being tied to a rock facing the sun all day long with periodic whippings. The result was always death. Those that were picked by slave traders were forced to walk to the coast – like walking across Oregon.  I continue to be aghast at how humans treat humans in the course of history.

Now a days, Ghana is perhaps more civil than many parts of the world. Greeting, helping strangers helping mothers with small children, etc. seems to be a general theme and I am not talking just about helping the now and then white man or woman from Oregon.

-David Stone