The dead beneath our feet

The beaches next to Elmina Castle where slave ships would dock to load their ‘cargo’ before heading off to sea

In February 2019 I visited Elmina Castle, a sprawling white-washed fortress close to Cape Coast in what is now Ghana. The Castle served as prison for men and women brought from across West Africa and destined to spend their lives in chains. One year on I remain unable to write about the history of this place or the number of people held captive. To reduce their story to dates and numbers, the ‘facts’ of slavery, is to neglect the horrors that Elmina represented – and continues to represent.

Breathe deep he says
Prepare yourself for what is to come

But nothing can prepare me for this

We descend into the darkness

To the place

I stand

The air is sucked from me

I cannot breathe
For here there is no life
Only pain

Hands reach to comfort me
But there is no comfort to be had
In this place

I stand on the dead
Remnants of the past
Traces of the future


I stand on the dead
A life built on the backs of others


Then as now
Now as then

There are no ways to finish
Because this is not over

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