The Elimna Castle and Fort is the oldest European site in West Africa, established by the Portuguese in the late 15th century. It was later taken over by the Dutch and then the British. It was a major trading post for centuries, first for gold and then for slaves. First stop is the Museum in the former Portuguese Church. The Elimna Castle and Fort was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
Our guide which I must commend was quite knowledgeable, he gave us a tour of the castle. After the church we headed to the Dungeons where up to 1,000 male and 500 female slaves were shackled and crammed with poor ventilation and without water or sanitation, the floor of the dungeon were littered with human waste and many captives fell seriously ill.
The men were separated from the women, and the captors regularly raped some of the helpless women. The castle also have confinement cells for prisoners who revolted or were seen as rebellious, they were left to die of hunger and dehydration. Once the slaves set foot in the castle, they could spend up to three months in captivity under these dreadful conditions before being shipped off to the New World.
The condition inside the cells was a harsh contrasts, with the other extravagant chambers and the stunning views outside the Elimna Castle. The stench in the dungeon can still be perceived till today and it is a gentle reminder of how our forefathers were treated during slavery.
The slaves were transported through the gate of no return on to the high sea where some of them died en-route the New World.
There are quite a bit of relics of the old colonial era inducing cannon balls which must have been used to protect the castle against invaders.
There are also several flowers and letters from relatives of the slaves who had traced their roots to the Elimna Castle some of which were quite emotional.