My trip ended at Cape Coast. I wanted to see St. George's Castle, the 15th-century Portuguese fortress just up the coast at Elmina. For more than 300 years, countless numbers of slaves were taken there, held there, beaten, the women often raped, men and women killed. It is the best preserved -- and therefore probably most haunting -- of dozens of such slave transit posts along the coast of Ghana. It survives as a fearful, disturbing monument to man's cruelty to other men.
A small group of us, led by a Ghanaian guide, passed through dark passages and narrow portals to the Room of No Return. This was the place from where the slaves -- maybe my relative -- departed to the slave ships waiting outside. In a corner, there were flowers and a wreath left recently. So many thoughts. So many emotions.
In the courtyard at the castle, there is a plaque affixed to a wall, not far from where, ironically, stood the Catholic Church where the slave traders worshipped. The plaque reads: "In everlasting memory of the anguish of our ancestors ... may those who died rest in peace ... may those who return find their roots."