Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Amazing Grace

On Sunday night we watched the movie Amazing Grace, the story of William Wilberforce and his struggle to abolish the slave trade in England, for one of my classes. I have seen the movie before . . . but not since I have returned home from Ghana. Before the movie started I told myself that I was going to keep it together, I had cried the first time I saw the movie but I knew what was coming so I wouldn't embarrass myself in front of the whole program. I didn't last long. Luckily for me the room was dark but I had to get up and leave about 20 minutes into the movie so I could go get a tissue and have a little cry away from everyone else. But as I watched the film, focused mostly on the English politics of the situation, all I could think about was the things that I have seen on the African side of the spectrum. I saw in my mind the slave castles, the dungeons, the stories . . .
Here is a partial view of Cape Coast Castle. Much of the African slave trade was based in Ghana, with three slave castles along the coast. Cape Coast Castle was one of the biggest. It is here where slaves were bartered for, imprisoned, punished, beaten, killed, and, if they survived, sent from their homeland forever. I can't even explain to you the dark, overpressing spirit that covered this castle.
This picture shows the entrance to the male dungeons. The room that you can see directly above the entrance is the first Anglican church in Ghana. The first Christian church . . .

Here is another view of the church . . . this time we are on the upper level looking at the door to the church on the right. The small square on the ground you can see is a trap door where you could check on your slave in the dungeon before walking into church. The walls could not block out the sounds of pain, suffering and death from below. I am horrified by the thought of Christians going to church with all this around them and feeling good about the world.
One of the male dungeons, this tiny space would be filled with hundreds of men. The small window you can see above was their only source of light and fresh air. Food and water would be thrown down once in a while from another hole. There was no way to get away from their own blood and sewage.
The Cell, or Cape Coast Castle's version of the death chamber for misbehaving slaves.

I cried because I just don't understand how people can treat their brothers and sisters in such a way. I cried because I have lived with, taught, and love the people of Ghana. The picture above is of some of our children. They love to learn! Look at them just soaking in the book Where the Wild Things Are.
Some of the children I love at worship service. They are so adorable!!!
Needless to say that by the end of the movie I was a mess. I had hidden myself in a corner so that I wouldn't disturb anyone but when the lights came on everyone knew. My face was bright red, I was shaking, my eyes were bloodshot, my nose was stuffy, and I was trying to stay somewhat composed. My roommates and close friends knew immediately why I was crying and were so sweet, but everyone else was a little baffled. Professor Paul asked me if it was the first time I had seen the movie and I tried to explain to her in that tear-studdering voice that I had just been to Africa this summer. It took me a while to calm down but I was grateful for the reminder of my love of the people of Ghana. I am so grateful to the strong men and women of this world like William Wilberforce who have dedicated their lives to making this world a better place.

4 comments:

tbh said...

This is a nice tribute. It made me cry, but what else is new??

tbh said...
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tbh said...
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tbh said...
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