Friday, April 04, 2008

Cape Coast, Kakum NP

When we finally got motivated to move on again, we found ourselves heading a couple hours west, to Cape Coast. Even with all the time we're stuck in Ghana we decided that it would be better to conserve our strength and spend more time resting and go to just the biggest tourist sites. Cape Coast is a busy one. It was the British colonial capital until 1877 so has that "faded colonial charm" look to it. There were/are dozens of slaving forts that dot the coast line but Cape Coast fort was arguably the most important and is now a major attraction. Only 15km further west and visible from the fort, is Elmina fort. Elmina's fort is the oldest surviving European structure built in the tropics. 1482. Inside it is the oldest Christian church in Africa, outside of Ethiopia and Egypt (which had them from the beginning). We went on tours of both forts and heard the stories and saw the dungeons. It was great that I'd read Roots before coming because it made it so much easier to visualize as we walked through. The Ghana coast was once a major slaving area with 70% of slaves coming from captives of tribal warfare. All the Europeans had to do is promote tribal warfare, sit back and let captives be brought in exchange for more and better weapons to catch more of the enemy. This lasted a couple hundred years with the Portuguese, Danish, Dutch, Swedish, Germans, French and British all taking turns controlling various forts and fighting each other for control of the trade or working side by side. Of course there are slave forts all over the coast, including Senegal, Gambia, Sierra Leone, and all the way to Cameroon and beyond but the highest concentration of forts was along the coast out here in Ghana.
Also near Cape Coast is Kakum National Park. While few visitors actually see any wildlife there, the main attraction is a 350m long canopy walkway. With 7 bridges between 6 trees with little viewing platforms as much as 40m above the jungle floor, it gives a great bird's eye view of the vegetative mass around you. It is the first such walkway in Africa and one of only a few in the world. It was interesting and certainly scenic, but at the same time disappointing because there's no wildlife to see.


At 11:06 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Ammon,
I think it is too easy to say the europeans promoted tribal warfare and then just sat back. Tribal warfare continues today, and pre-existed any arrival of europeans, as did slavery. I do agree on the opportunistic attitude that prevailed though. How's the weather holding up? Should be warming up I guess. How is everyone holding up?

Bear hugs
The Bear


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