Door of (No) Return

“I made it back.”

Long before I even stepped foot in Ghana, I knew that this trip would be significant for me:

◾My sixth trip to the Continent

◾My second trip to sub-Saharan Africa

◾My first trip to West Africa, and

◾My first visit to an African country where I have traceable ancestry.

History has always been important to me. Heritage. And, as we walked the grounds of the Cape Coast Castle, I whispered to no one in particular, “I made it back.”

“Door of Return”, Cape Coast Castle, Ghana

Because whether it was this door or another just like it, people whose blood flows through my veins were forced to cross this threshold with no expectation that they would ever return.

The “Door of No Return” is at the end of a long, sloping corridor. From a purely visual standpoint, the bright beams streaming through the dark wooden door look like the “light at the end of the tunnel”. But there was no light on the other side of that door for the people who were enslaved at Cape Coast Castle.

The corridor leading to the “Door of No Return”, Cape Coast Castle, Ghana

Even before reaching the door, you can hear the sea — just yards away — its waves lapping against the shore. That same sea, and those same waves, once held massive slave ships — that transported human cargo to the “New World”. To the Americas, and the Caribbean.

No one who walked through that door was ever expected to return.

“Door of No Return”, Cape Coast Castle, Ghana

That’s why it was so important for me to return to this place — Cape Coast Castle, Ghana, Africa — to feel this land under my feet.

I made it BACK. Not because I had been here before. I almost said, “But because this is where it all began.” I stopped short, though, because the story did not begin here.

But my history and heritage do flow through this place, and I can stand tall because of the remarkable men and women in my family line that survived this place.

In juxtaposition to the “Door of No Return”, the other side is labeled “Door of Return”. It symbolizes Africa welcoming its diaspora back home.

They may have tried to erase our names, traditions, languages, and kinship, but I insist on reclaiming everything that is mine.

~Eva del Aire

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