US Vice President Kamala Harris was visibly emotional while delivering a speech after touring the Cape Coast Castle in Ghana. Harris, who visited the ‘slave castle’ as part of her activities for her three-day visit to the West African nation, emotionally touched on the castle’s grim history as well as the negative effects of slavery.
Ghana, then known as the Gold Coast, served as a transit point during the transatlantic slave trade. Several castles and forts still dotted across the country continue to serve as tourist destinations for diasporans as well as locals.
The Cape Coast Castle, which was built by the Swedes and is located in Ghana’s Central Region, was initially used as a trading spot for timber and gold. The castle, however, later became a transit point for enslaved Africans to be shipped to the Americas and the Caribbean through the Atlantic Ocean.
In her speech, Harris highlighted the atrocities that were committed at the castle, Graphic Online reported. “So, being here was — was immensely powerful and moving,” an emotional Harris said. “When we think about how human beings were treated by the hundreds of thousands in this very place that we now stand, the crimes that happened here, the blood that was shed here.”
“There are dungeons here where human beings were kept — men, women, and children. They were kidnapped from their homes. They were transported hundreds of miles from their homes, not really sure where they were headed,” she added. “And they came to this place of horror — some to die, many to starve and be tortured, women to be raped — before they were then forcibly taken on a journey thousands of miles from their home to be sold by so-called merchants and taken to the Americas, to the Caribbean to be an enslaved people.”
Harris, who is the first female and first Black-American Vice President, reportedly cleared her nose and took many deep breaths when the tour guide took her to the female slave dungeons as well as the “Door of No Return.” Enslaved Africans were forced onto slave ships for the dangerous journey through the “Door of No Return.”
“We don’t know the numbers who died on their way to this place, the numbers who were killed during that passage on the Atlantic,” Harris said. “The horror of what happened here must always be remembered. It cannot be denied. It must be taught. History must be learned.”
Harris also stressed the importance of telling such stories. “All these stories must be told in a way that we take from this place — the pain we all feel, the anguish that reeks from this place,” she said. “And we then carry the knowledge that we have gained here toward the work that we do in lifting up all people, in recognizing the struggles of all people, of fighting for, as the walls of this place talk about, justice and freedom for all people, human rights for all people.”
Harris’ visit to the castle comes after she announced a $100 million aid package for Ghana. She will also visit Tanzania and Zambia as part of her nine-day trip to Africa. As Vice President of the United States, Harris is the highest-ranking government official to step foot in Africa this year. The trip is meant to strengthen US ties in Africa.