Every Vacation Has A Story…

A few years ago, our Vivian and Pat’s family was fortunate enough to have their  brother offer his DNA for use with African Ancestry to dig deeper into their  families history.  Through this reputable company our family discovered that our lineage was Ashanti or Asanti as said in Ghana.  Pat and Vivian decided to travel to Ghana to reconnect with their ancestors.  The trip was emotional, educational and yes, a reconnection.Vivian and Pat Day 1_2

Who is Kwame Nkrumah?

One of our first stops was the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum and Museum:  He was the first president of Ghana, who was later over thrown by the CIA because of his friendship with communist countries.   Two people he admired the most were Marcus Garvey and W.E.B. Dubois.  President Nkrumah believed in the empowerment of women. He said, “To educate a man, you educate an individual; To educate a woman, you educate a nation.”  When he died he had three burials: 1st  in New Guinea, 2nd in his mother’s village, 3rd in Ghana’s museum.

Pat Dancing Day 1 Exploring Ghana

When we went to the restaurant for dinner, we were greeted with the music of African drums.  The dancers entertained us as we feasted on chicken, fish, two types of rice, salad and ice cream.  After dinner, we were encouraged to join them for an evening of dancing and singing.  Little did we know that was just a sample of good things to come.

The legacy of  our ancestors

Ancestrial Graveyard

Ancestrial Graveyard

The events from The Ancestral Graveyard broke our hearts.  Before the 1900s domestic slavery was similar to indentured servants.  After the 1900s the Transatlantic slavery began.  This is the slave interment center.  At the interment slaves were examined, fattened up, given their last bath before the auction, and then covered with Shea butter to be sold.  Those who were not able to be sold were killed and buried in bamboo by the river.  The women in the early stages of pregnancy were sent back to the village; those almost full term were kept until they had their baby.  The baby was killed and the women put on the auction block.  We all said prayers for those who had died at this spot.

Cave Slave Markings

Cave Slave Markings

We were able to visit three slave castles, Cape Coast, Elmina, and Fort Amsterdam (the village of Louis Armstrong’s ancestors). From a historian, we learned how the Portuguese, Dutch, and British battled to control the different slaves castles, how they added moats and bats to defend the castles. The Africans were told to use bricks that came on the empty ships and used ground sea shells as mortar to build the forts. We walked in the close quarters seeing only a sliver of light, you saw where they ate, urinated, or watched another slave bleed to death; it was an experience that you will never forget.  In the picture, we are looking at the marks on the wall that the slaves made to show they were there.

 

Kente Cloth

Along with shopping for Kente Cloth, we learned the process of making the dye and also made scarves using stamps of the symbols.  The making of Kente Cloth and the tribes’ resources are being lost with the use of machines.  The Ghanaians wear red and black Kente cloth to funerals of people over 80 years of age to celebrate their life and to all others they wear the black and white cloth.  They use bill boards to announce the funerals.

It is a memorial site to see people come from miles around dressed in their special garments.

Grave Site

Grave Site

 

“Until the lion tells his story , the story will always glorify the hunter.”
These two coffins represent the importance of going home, the people of Ghana feel strongly that our return reconnects us as a people.  Ghana is a beautiful land made of proud beautiful people willing to admit their mistakes, learn from them, and never forget them.

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