It was a day like no other as almost 300 African Americans made their way down to Cape Coast, Ghana to tour the site where many of their ancestors were held in captivity before being transported across the Atlantic. After being welcomed by the Chiefs of Cape Coast at the local palace, the ambiance amongst the group soon turned somber as the group walked in unison from the palace to the Slave castles where millions of Africans suffered in dungeons at the hands of Europeans.
As the group went from chamber to chamber, hanging on to every word as the guide narrated the painful history of the ground they walked on, the agony in the air was almost tangible.
“This has been the most life-changing moment of my life,” whispered an elderly woman to her daughter as they exited the female dungeons and walked towards the Door of No Return – the last port of exit before being taken away from their homeland forever. Beyond the door of no return was a beach washing ashore to a fishing town. Locals cast their net into the ocean for the catch of the day, others sat on the steps of the castle looking upon their brothers and sisters, generations removed. A soft breeze blew as blew, and the waves of the ocean crashed ashore – a scene so serene it stood in stark contrast to the atrocities which occurred at that castle four centuries ago.
“They called this the ‘Door of No Return.’ They didn’t want you to come back but look at us now. You have returned. You have survived, and you have returned to us.” On the other side of the door stood a placard that read ‘Door of Return.’”
Walking through the Door of Return, they took their seats, heavyhearted, as they waited for the results of the African Ancestry reveal. People traced their roots to Cameroun, Togo, Gabon, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Equatorial Guinea, Senegal and more. The Haynes family, a multigenerational family of women traveling from Howard County, MD, were the last participants to be called. The crowd erupted in cheer and tears of joy when it was announced they were matrilineal descendants of the Akan people of Ghana.