A Monument To Slavery

Andrew Sullivan —  Oct 7 2012 @ 2:51pm


In a fascinating and candid essay on ancestry, Emily Raboteau visits São Jorge da Mina, Ghana's oldest and most notorious slave trade castle:

I thought about the eternal flames burning at the Holocaust memorials in Jerusalem and Washington, D.C., and felt the absence of such a gesture at this monument. I wasn’t looking for anything as grand, or as grotesque, as the reenactment ceremonies staged here from time to time. But as a museum, I found the castle disappointing. There was nothing written on the walls. There were no marks left by the captives. There were no maps to display the regions from which they’d been kidnapped, no paintings of how they’d lived, no glass cases to show their belongings. Nor were there any accounts in their words of the hell it was to be imprisoned here. What we know about them we know from the ledgers and journals of the merchants. The slaves themselves left no shadow. 

(Photo: São Jorge da Mina by Paul Arps)