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Published: July 24th 2010
Dorothy by an old cannon
Saturday 24th July 2010
This was a purely tourist day - a trip to the village of Elmina, on the coast about 180 kilometres west of Accra. One of the main attractions in Elmina is the fort/castle - supposedly the oldest European building in Africa south of the Sahara.
The fort was originally built by the Portugese in the 15th century, was captured later by the Dutch, and was then bought from them by the British when the slave trade ended. Finally it was given to new Ghana republic in 1957 when it became independant.
Bus journeys in Ghana can take quite a long time, so to be sure of being able to get to Elmina and back in a day, we needed to leave quite early. We set our alarm for 5:30am and were leaving the hotel by 6:00. Public transport is ready and running by this time so we caught a tro-tro along the ring road to Nkrumah Circle, then walked for about 20 minutes to the main STC (long distance coach company) bus station. I had been to the bus station yesterday to buy the tickets in advance to ensure that we had a seat.
The coach left at 7:45, only 15 minutes late which is not bad!
There was a brief rest stop at Cape Coast then the coach dropped us at the turn off to Elmina as the coach was going on to Takaradi. We knew we wouldn't have too long in Elmina because we had to get back to Cape Coast later in order to catch the last bus (3:00pm) from there back to Accra.
The three main places of interest in Elmina are the fort, the fishing harbour and the Posoban shrines.
The fort is positioned in a beautiful location on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by lovely sand and palm trees. The history it hides, that of the slave trade, is rather less lovely though. The view from the fort over the beaches and the fishing harbour were very photogenic.
For a small village, the number of fishing boats is amazing. Also amazing is the colourful scene with hundreds of them pulled up onto the sand or anchored in the harbour.
This region of Ghana is home to an unusual custom involving the building of shrines containing often life-size human figures and a
Inside the main courtyard
strange mixture of other symbols like ships, aeroplanes etc. Apparently the significance of these symbols is very difficult to interpret (so I won't try!).
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