Story written by: Bright Philip Donkor
Curren Price Jr visits Cape Coast Castle: Exploring history, increasing collaborations
In a usually Christmas atmosphere on Sunday December 25, 2022, the historic city of Cape Coast came face to face with one of the charismatic man on the planet, who is a walking symbol of hope of Black achievement and African hope. But this was more than an excursion.
This was the defining moment for Curren De Mille Price Jr., Los Angeles City Council Member for District 9, who paid a historic visit to the Cape Coast castle in the Central Region. Accompanying him, were his wife Del Richardson Price, children and grandchildren, together with other delegation. And it took all of one hour. One hour of Curren Price’s time.
It may also interest you to know that they arrived in Ghana at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, on Thursday, December 23, 2022 afternoon. They were welcomed by some members of the Okogyeaman Tete Kwame Asona Royal family from Ahwerase Akuapem.
The rich culture and costume of the traditional rulers were in full glare. The Royal family were dressed in rich ‘Kente’, with ornaments of pure gold adorning their hands and feet. The drumming and dancing troops entertained the Councilman.
Their visit to Ghana, and particularly, the castle, formed part of activities to experience the beauty of the Ghanaian history and culture to the maximum, increase collaborations between both countries and create an avenue to build on the existing synergy. Mrs Nehanda Sankofa-Ra, who’s known in traditional space as the Ankobeahemaa Nana Akosua Sekyiaabea I and her husband Mr Patrick Cobbinah, also accompanied Mr Price to the castle.
Upon arrival to the Cape Coast castle, a museum educator (tour guide) took the delegation round the castle. They were briefed on how African slaves were in the dungeons of the castle, chained together and shipped to America through the ‘Door of No Return’. The Council together with his people were also conducted round the castle dungeons (male and female dungeons), the cannon turrets, white-washed walls, among other sites in the castle.
The tour guide pointed out the history and the sections of the castle, with its dungeons, cannon turrets and white-washed walls and the delegation were able to hear about and pay homage to those ripped from Africa and scattered throughout the Diaspora.
They were educated on the performance of a symbolic hand-washing with water fetched from the Assin Manso River, about 30 kilometres away from the coast, which was the final place where all captured slaves were bathed before being marched in chains to the castle for their onward journey to America and Caribbean.
This particular moment evoked emotions among them, some of whom became teary in the process. A minute’s of silence were observed for departed souls during the trade.
The Councilman was armed with information that his great-great ancestors were taken through the ‘Door of No Return’ by slave ships to Virginia or South Carolina in America, where they worked on the sugarcane plantations and tobacco fields of Virginia.
The Los Angeles City Council Member for District 9 said: “We have come here to the castle as African-Americans to the dungeons to see what happened to our ancestors before they left here and embarked on the treacherous journey to the United States to begin a period of 250 years of enslavement”.
The Councilman said the experience “reminds us of the capacity of human beings to commit great evil. One of the most striking things that I heard was that right above the dungeons in which male captives were kept, was a church, and that reminds us that sometimes, we can tolerate and stand by great evil even as we think that we’re doing well”.
On behalf of the Los Angelis 9th District, Curren Price thanked the chiefs and people of Cape Coast and Elmina for “the beautiful reception; you have warmed our hearts with your hospitality and the privilege to visit this place. It is now part of our heritage”.
He added: “So obviously, it’s a moving experience, a moving moment. We want to thank those who arranged for the tour and the people of Ghana for preserving this history. As painful as it is, I think that it helps to teach all of us that we have to do what we can to fight against the kinds of evils that, sadly, still exist in our world, not on this continent but in every corner of the globe”.
“And I think, as Americans, and as African Americans, obviously, there’s a special sense that on the one hand, this place was a profound place of sadness; on the other hand, it is here where the journey of much of the African American experience began. To the tour guide, you’re knowledgeable and we thank you for your time, and we wish you a merry Christmas,” the Councilman stated.
Curren Price Jr also expressed hope that the visit will create more collaboration between Cape Coast, Los Angelis, the Central Region and Ghana in both local and international circles.
He also expressed his satisfaction with the growth of tourism in the nation and noted that Ghana was a very peaceful country that could serve as the centre of tourism for the West African sub-region.
He stated that the US and Los Angelis City was willing to work with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, and Culture to boost the industry to give the populace jobs and increase the nation’s economic growth
Every aspect of Ghanaian life tells an imaginative story. We tell stories through our fabrics. Our craft, music, films and festivals all tell stories about our lives and our beliefs. We have a lot to tell the world. Ours is a captivating story and we can make it the success story of the continent.
From my perspective as a pressman, I think there’s therefore the need for the two cities to always collaborate to boost tourism, arts and culture in the two cities.
As part of the collaboration, the two countries can be organising joint tourism fora in Ghana and the United States to help promote Ghana’s tourism potential.
The US is an important tourism market for Ghana, and I urge the Councilman to use his office to help market Ghana as a potential tourism and investment destination.
The launch of the ‘Beyond the Return’ by President Akufo-Addo in 2019 made Ghana the centre of interest for African Diasporans, therefore, Ghana was taking steps not only to attract tourists but also repeat visitors.
That’s why steps must be taken in revamping some tourist attraction sites such as the national museum after extensive renovation, renovating Nkrumah Memorial Park, renovation of both Cape Coast and Elmina Castle and the training of stakeholders in the tourism value chain to improve their customer care orientation.
Cape Coast Castle is one of the most famous castles during the slave trade in Ghana. It began as a trade lodge constructed by the Portuguese in 1555. It is situated in Cape Coast in the Central Region of Ghana.
The Cape Coast Castle and other forts and castles along the Gold Coast protected important ports of the European-African Gold and Ivory trade and later became centres of the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade.
‘Cabo Corso’ meaning ‘short cape’ is the original Portuguese name given to the local settlement within which its trade lodge was built. Later, the name was corrupted to ‘Cape Coast’, and has since been the accepted name of the Central Regional capital.
The Swedes, however, were the initiators of the permanent structure presently known as Cape Coast Castle. They built a fort in 1653 and named it Carlousburg, after King Charles X of Sweden.
Dutch occupation commenced in 1660. Finally, the British fleet, led by Captain Holmes, conquered the fort in 1665 and by 1700, had upgraded it into a castle.
Colonial rivalry between England and France peaked in 1757 during the Seven Years’ War. A French naval squadron bombarded Cape Coast Castle, leaving it badly damaged, and after 1760, the English reconstructed the castle entirely – with more durable materials and an improved sea defence system.
The English retained control of the Castle into the late 19th century. After 1807, trade centred on precious metals, ivory, corn and pepper. In the eighteenth century, the castle’s role altered, as it became the centre of European education in Ghana.
The Cape Coast Castle has served as the West African headquarters of the president of the Committee of Merchants; the seat of the British governor; and a school. The Castle served as the head of English administration of the Gold Coast until 1877, when the colonial government moved its headquarters to the Christiansburg Castles in Accra.
The castle was first restored in the 1920s by the British Public Works Department.
In 1957, when Ghana became independent, the castle came under the care of the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board. In the early 1990s, the building was restored by the Ghanaian Government, with funds from the United Nations Development Programme, United States Agency for International Development, with technical assistance from the Smithsonian Institution and other NGOs.
Today, the Castle is a designated UNESCO World Heritage, open to the public from 9:00am to 5:00pm daily.
Story written by: Bright Philip Donkor. Writer’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org