The Great Landing, 400 years in retrospect

It was an emotional and touching experience when the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Patricia Pelosi and members of the Black Congressional Caucus paid a twin visit to the slave castles in Elmina and Cape Coast on Tuesday.

The visit, which formed part of the activities to mark the 400th anniversary of the first Enslaved Africans in the Americas, was not only historic but also a solemn and reflective moment for the delegation, some of whom were visiting their “homeland” for the first time.

In what could be described as the great “home coming”, members of the delegation were made to symbolically retrace their steps back “home” through  “Door of no Return” embedded within the architectural design of the Cape Coast Castle now christened the “The Door of Return”.

Significantly, the visit afforded the delegation, an uncommon opportunity to pay their solemn respect at both slave castles and particularly the infamous “Door of no Return” and also observe the 400th anniversary of the First Enslaved African Landing in America.

At Elmina, which was the first point of call, a colourful mini durbar was held at the forecourt of the Castle in honour of Ms Pelosi and the Congressional Black Caucus by the chiefs and people of the Edina Traditional Area.

Amid the rich cultural display by a local dance ensemble, members of the delegation were made to undertake a symbolic cleansing dubbed the “Last Bath”, which should have taken place at Assin Manso “Ancestral” Slave River Park.

A minute silence was observed in honour of those who lost their lives in the process of been transported to the Americas.

So emotional was the symbolic cleansing that one could visibly see tears running down the checks of the Congress men and women as they sobbed through the ritual.

The durbar was climaxed with a wreath ceremony in front of the Male Slave Dungeon by the delegation, after which the Omanhene of the Edina Traditional Area, Nana Kojo Conduah VI decorated Ms Pelosi and Karen Bass, chair of the Black Congressional Caucus with a garland of traditional leafs “Nyenyen”, after which the team was given a private tour of the slave castle.

A similar wreath laying ceremony was performed by the team in front of the dreaded Male Dungeon when they visited the Cape Coast Castle and subsequently given a private tour of the facility.

One could feel the memories of pain and anguish of the forebears evoked by the tour of the facility, and as the delegation emerged out of the infamous “Door of no Return” rechristened “Door of Return” where they symbolically retraced their steps back to the “homeland”, one could read the expression, “Never Again” visibly written all over their faces.

 At “Emintsimadzi”, the Palace of the Omanhene of the Oguaa Traditional Area, Osaberemba Kwesi Atta II, the legendary John Lewis, Congressman for Georgia, who could not hide the pain and anguish of his colleagues, questioned why the world looked on silently while such atrocities took place.


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