From Elmina Castle: Undoing Racism

By Charles Du Mond

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Charles DuMond in the Cape Coast Castle male slave dungeon.

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.

Slideshow of images from 2012 Elmina and Cape Coast Castle visit.

About the Author

Charles Du Mond

Charles Du Mond, along with the Rev. Meg Riley, was installed as Co-Moderator and Chief Governance Officer at General Assembly 2020. He sees serving on the Moderator Team as an opportunity to continue to empower the leadership of others.


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