Slavery remembered in Accra
Accra - An emotional governor-general of Canada, Michaelle Jean, shed tears as she was taken on a tour of the Elmina Castle, 100 kilometres west of Accra, where she sympathised at what her ancestors were subjected to as they were herded into slavery.
Jean, whose background is Haitian and of African descent, went to the castle as part of a five-day visit to Ghana, the Ghana News Agency (GNA) reported.
She laid a wreath at the gate of "No Return," where slaves bought from Ghana passed to board wooden ships that took them to the Americas. Some arrived, but others perished on sea.
On behalf of the people of Canada and Africans in the Diaspora she said: "It was special for me to be back. I pray for those who went through the gate of no return and those who did not make it to the far away lands in the Americas."
Jean said the time had come for all to "confront the pain of slavery and move together not as individual countries but for the African continent."
"I'm optimistic that we all belong to one community on earth and should therefore not discriminate against each other.
"The tragic history of slavery is an important testimony that should be related to us as human beings and that the painful episode of slavery should teach us a lesson and be preserved and built on."
Even though the slave trade had been abolished, she said, a look at the faces of the children gathered around, indicated that "slavery was still a reality," and there was the need for people to pay attention to it.
"If we do not pay attention to slavery, it is a betrayal, others are still living in slavery, we cannot not deny or say it is not happening."
Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, Ghana's minister of Tourism and Diasporan Relations, said because of the emotions felt by people of African descent who visited the former slave castles, it was imperative to develop them into "pilgrim sites."
They should be "treated with respect as holy grounds, just like Mecca," and not just be regarded as tourist attractions.
There are some 40 forts and castled dotted along the Ghanaian coast.