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AKWAABA MEANS WELCOME

by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | February 24th, 2019

AKWAABA MEANS WELCOME

When I told some of my friends I was going to Ghana for vacation, I was asked “why Ghana?” I replied “why not?”. Although, I have traveled to Nigeria multiple times and had stopped in other African countries for a lay over, I had never been to another country in Africa for an extended period of time. I was glad to have this opportunity.

Quick facts about Ghana:

  • Located in West Africa
  • Capital is Accra
  • Population: 28 million
  • Official language: English
  • First country in Africa to gain independence in 1957
  • Major export commodity – Gold (Ghana used to be called the Gold Coast)
  • Largest exporter of cocoa beans
  • Africa’s most peaceful country by the Global Peace Index

I had the opportunity to visit the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum, Labade beach, Kakum National Park to go on the Kakum Canopy Walkway, James Fort and the Artist Alliance Gallery.  The most moving experience was the visit to Cape Coast Castle.

Cape Coast Castle is one of about forty “slave castles” built on the coast of Africa. It was initially built for trade in timber and gold but later used in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. This was the area that held slaves before they were loaded onto the ships and sold in the Americas. This “gate of no return” was the last stop before crossing the Atlantic Ocean. The tour guide took us through the various dungeons. There were the male dungeons, female dungeons and the cell.

The cell was used for any man that was found to be aggressive. There were no windows in the cell. No one left the cell alive. The tour guide took us in the cell and I literally had to leave after two minutes because I could not breathe. I felt like I was suffocating. Tears started to well up in my eyes. To think that a human being can treat another human being in this manner seemed unconscionable.

We were taken to the area where women were taken and raped. If a woman became pregnant, they were kept in the castle until they gave birth and then taken to the ships off to the Americas. If a woman was discovered pregnant when on the ship, she was tossed off the ship before reaching the Americas because there was no use for a “pregnant slave”.

Many people died due to the conditions in the castle and through the journey to the Americas. The fact that there were survivors who made it across and endured all that they did through the years for us to be where we are today is a testament to their strength and resilience.

This was truly emotional and I came out of this with a renewed sense of being. We have an obligation to take care of ourselves (mind, body and spirit) and our future generation so that what are ancestors endured would not be in vain.  There is a stone at the castle with the following:

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 PERPETUATE

SUCH INJUSTICE AGAINST HUMANITY

WE, THE LIVING, VOW TO UPHOLD THIS.

The door that was once named the “door of no return” has been changed to the “door of return”. If you have the opportunity to visit the continent, take it. If not, the best part of the internet is that you can Google the places mentioned and take a virtual tour.

2 Responses to “AKWAABA MEANS WELCOME”

  1. Thanks for sharing your experience in Ghana. And to think that very place is now the most peaceful in Africa.

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The book discusses common gynecological and women’s health issues in a series of witty and entertaining letters. These letters, all educational, offer suggestions on what approaches to take in tackling the medical problems that typically bring women to an ob/gynecologist. The letters are spiced with art, a poem and quotes. Although its emphasis is on gynecology and women’s health, it touches on some other medical issues that make women visit their doctors.

The second half of the book briefly discusses the most common gynecological conditions and also provides an overview of sexually transmitted infections. A list of annotated websites dealing with the different topics in the book is provided for the reader who wants to pursue each subject in depth.




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