Eric Adams travels to Ghana to visit former slave-trading post



Mayor-elect Eric Adams made an emotional visit Thursday morning to Elmina Castle, the first European slave-trading post in sub-Saharan Africa — located on the west coast of present-day Ghana.

Adams, on a private trip with his family, walked in and around the old castle, examining the shackles used to imprison Africans while they waited to be boarded onto slave ships and pausing below an entrance reading, “Female Slave Dungeon.”

“This visit was powerful, and it gives me a sense of completeness as I prepare to face the city’s challenges,” Adams, who will be the city’s second black mayor, told The Post after his visit. “That is why I am here: to return to find my roots.”

Elmina Castle was built by Portuguese traders in 1482 — originally to protect the gold trade. It’s one of about 40 “slave castles” or trading forts built on what was then known as the “Gold Coast.” But after its capture by the Dutch in 1637, it turned into a hellish detention center, similar to other West African slave fortresses, organized to serve the Dutch slave trade with Brazil and the Caribbean. Britain took over ownership in the 1800s.

Historians say about six million Africans were shipped out of the slave fortresses along the Ghana coast beginning in the 1500s and lasting until the mid-1800s when the colonial powers began abolishing slavery. It’s estimated that about 10 to 15% percent of them perished at sea, the so-called “Middle Passage.”

Adams tours Elmina Castle.

Elmina Castle was built by the Dutch in 1482.

Adams enters the “door of no return” at Elmina Castle.

“I made a promise to myself that I would visit Ghana following the 400-year anniversary of slavery in America and the election, to show how far we have come and remember how far we still must go,” said Adams prior to leaving for his visit.

Elmina, at its slave trading peak, was structured like an evil version of “Upstairs, Downstairs.” The European slave trading masters lived in luxurious quarters on the upper levels while Africans suffered unimaginably in cramped, dirty slave dungeons below. Cells housed up to 200 Africans at a time, without space to lie down.

“To walk through the dungeons, you can feel the pain of those who were here,” Adams said. “I hope that Africans throughout the diaspora can walk through here and make this same journey I am on.”

Former Portuguese chapel and more modern police training walls in the courtyard of Elmina Castle.
Former Portuguese chapel and more modern police training walls in the courtyard of Elmina Castle.
Getty Images

Adams noted that the HACSA Foundation (Heritage and Cultural Society of Africa) allowed him to cross through the notorious “Door of No Return” on the seaboard side of Elmina Castle, the portal through which Africans were forced to go through before they were boarded onto the slave ships.

Staircases led down from the European traders’ quarters to the dungeons where they could take women as personal concubines.

Drawbridge, Elmina Castle, Ghana, 1883.
Drawbridge, Elmina Castle, Ghana, 1883.
Royal Geographical Society via Getty Images

Samuel Jackson visited Elmina for his “Enslaved” docuseries last year. Jackson has ancestors who passed through there. Melania Trump, when she was First Lady, went to a nearby slave castle in 2018 as did the Barack Obama family in July 2009.

Adams’ advisers had told The Post Sunday he was reconsidering the jaunt because of the Omicron variant that was first identified in southern Africa and has since spread to other countries around the world.

NY Post/Mike Guillen

But Adams, who is fully vaccinated and recently received a booster shot, decided to keep to his plans. Ghana and South Africa are approximately 4,000 miles apart, even farther than the distance from New York to California.

Adams is expected to return to New York on Dec. 8, according to his spokesman.


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