Tuesday, 25 January 2011


So we go on a trip, driven by the inestimable Charles (Charles is a driver by profession, but in a dream God showed him an orphan school, which he is now saving hard to build. We didn't quite know what to say - fits with current Tory policy I suppose). The trip involved a long and interesting drive to the Kakum National Park (rain forest, canopy walk), and then to Cape Coast castle old slaving centre.

The Park is fun, & the canopy walk suitably wobbly ("It is tested every morning. It can carry two elephants" - how do they know?). We fall alongside a party of Germans and Ghanaian government people who have been "doing trade" - good thing, as I missed my German class and I could amuse them with simple sentences about things being feucht. One of the bigger Ghanaians sports a shiny belt buckle emblazoned with the word "Versachi" - is that how you spell it?

The journey from the park to the Coast is hectic ... rutted road, busy, busy. Charles pushes on, until a police siren is heard behind us. A motorbike flashes by, followed by two cars flashing their hazard lights, and a third car full of Big Men with Guns (pedantically, Very Big Men with Very Guns). "Good", says Charles. He ignites his own hazard lights and falls in behind the motorcade which is travelling fast and ignoring all traffic regulations, lights, etc etc. Maggie and I are not sure about this.

After a scary couple of miles, the car into which the Men with Guns are squeezed drops back. Windows are wound down & there is aggresive shouting. Charles declares his harmlessness and friendship with the men, pointing out that his passengers are best mates with the illustrious occupants of the motorcade ... yes, the Germans. It appears we have netted an Ambassador. The men look hard at me in the front seat, and detect that I am distinguished. Smiles all round, & please join the procession. So we travel the rest of the way to the castle at top speed as honorary German diplomats.

When we exit the car at the castle, big hugs and hellos among the Ghanaians. The Germans are very polite to their new recruits.

The Cape Coast Castle was truly shocking, all the more so as we got the full-on tour laid out for the German dignitaries. This place and its cousins accounted for more death and misery than Auschwitz etc., by our reckoning.

More pictures

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