Charles Dumond is a member of the UUA delegation that is currently visiting the “Every Child is Our Child” program partners of the UU-UNO in Ghana. In this blogpost he shares reflections following visits to schools near the Cape Coast and Elmina Castle near Accra.
“True reconciliation consists of more than forgetting the past.” -- Nelson Mandela
On Friday, our last today together as a delegation, we traveled to Cape Coast Castle and Elmina Castle. Both of these structures played significant roles in the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
Last year, several of us at UU San Mateo began working through “Building the World We Dream About: A Tapestry of Faith Program for Adults.” One of my personal challenges was reconciling the knowledge of my ancestors as slaveholders with my life today.
As we toured the castles, both the heat and the history were unrelenting. We stood in slave dungeons with limited or no ventilation. The guide explained the torture and abuse the prisoners endured before being shipped away from their homeland. You can read books or watch films and know that the slave trade was wrong. When you stand in the dungeon and sweat soaks your clothes, you connect with history in a physical and personal way.
I wondered about the parallels to today. What about our current immigration policy? In 100 years, how will our descendants look at the forced separation of immigrant families, deportations, and ICE detention facilities?
One of the plaques at Cape Coast Castle says:
In Everlasting Memory
Of the anguish of our ancestors
May those who died rest in peace
May those who return find their roots
May humanity never again perpetrate
Such injustice against humanity
We, the living, vow to uphold this
May we all uphold it.