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2 posts from October 2015




Danette  Frederique (Northwestern University), a CIEE Ghana Fall 2015 Participant.


Cape Coast Castle, built in the 1600s

17th century odors should remain in the 17th century. Unfortunately for me, and to the shame of the rest of the world, on Sunday, October 4th while standing in the captive dungeons of the Cape Coast slave castle, I could smell the musty, moldy, dampness of the caves where thousands of black bodies stood (ate, sweat, urinated, defecated, mourned, plead, gave birth, and died…). I did not know misery and sorrow could have such a distinct scent. Being in those dungeons was an assault to the senses and emotions. The scents, the sound of the dungeon door closing, the maddening silence that ensued, the feelings of unease.


The dungeons where male slaves were kept.

An endless list of emotions could have been felt by a visitor to this dark place, and one’s emotional state, or lack thereof for some, depends on our identities, our personalities, where we come from, our educations and our passions. Whether you can feel the misery of your ancestors, sympathize with the misery of another people's ancestors, or feel nothing at all for misery of an entire population, this experience is a telling one that illustrates the lack of our abilities as members of this Earth to grasp a universal concept of humanity. Humanity didn’t exist when this castle was built. It didn’t exist when Africans were chained and marched to face an unknown fate. Humanity
was nowhere to be found in the male dungeon, female dungeon, punishment cells, the governor’s bedroom, and there was certainly no humanity in the chapel that was built on the territory. The audacity of the Europeans to build a church in a place of such wickedness, I thought. What kind of worship could be practiced here? The audacity of the Ghanaians to play and laugh on the beach and sell fabrics in the rooms of this castle where not too long ago, white people sold their ancestors. The audacity of some of my peers to break the crucial moments of silence with questions that yielded answers that did not solve any problems or ease any pain. These are some of what seemed like thousands of thoughts that traveled through my brain in that moment. Some of these thoughts do not seem rational in retrospect, but rationality is irrelevant in a place like that. The concept of space and who can command it is an interesting one.


Individuals who don’t bear the scars of these atrocities and descendants of those fortunate
enough to escape capture and enslavement may not be able to relate as deeply to the sorrow of
these captive Africans as members of the Diaspora can, but empathy is a powerful thing.
Perhaps it's too late for empathy to show its face in this space, in spaces related to this space,
and in these contexts. 

Hallway to Governor's bedroom

“In Everlasting Memory” said the sign by the entrance down to the male captive dungeon, but to merely keep the memories of this era alive isn’t enough. An unfathomable injustice was done to an entire population, and descendants of this population continue to suffer today. I suppose the stifling odor that lingers today is fitting for these crimes against humanity perpetrated hundreds of years ago. If the detrimental impacts can last this long, so can the smells. There is a lot of cleaning up to do.




This Piece was written by Carys Meyer, a CIEE Ghana Fall 2015 Participant from Emory University.


Carys Meyer (Emory University) in the studio with Maxwell (CIEE U-pal)

They say that during your time abroad it is important to do things that are out of your comfort zone. Well, my first week in Legon I went directly into my comfort zone; that is, the Comfort Zone Relationship Talk Show on Radio Univers 105.7.

Every Sunday night at 9pm, CIEE u-pal Maxwell hosts a relationship talk show on the University of Ghana radio station. Just minutes after I stepped off the plane in Accra, Maxwell was already talking to me about his campus-famous talk show and his passion for radio. In the week that followed, I jokingly asked Maxwell if I could make an appearance on his show; he said, “sure.” Taking my joke a step further, I asked if I could be his co-host; to my surprise, he again answered, “sure.” It was that simple. With no radio experience or notable relationship expertise, I was Comfort Zone’s newest host. On my first show with Maxwell we talked about cheating- how to handle it, if it is ever permissible, the difference between males and females, etc. We had a panelist of CIEE students who answered our questions about their own experiences with cheating and provided opinions on a wide variety of discussion topics. Halfway through the show we generally open up the phone lines for listeners to way in on what they are hearing. Ghanaian callers joined the conversation with American panelists and the result was fascinating! Right away we were all struck by the cultural differences in dating relationships, and especially with regards to cheating. Many of our Ghanaian callers found cheating in a relationship to be almost unavoidable, a viewpoint that shocked our American panelists. Ghanaian callers also restricted cheating to a predominately male behavior, while the CIEE students claimed that cheating was common for females as well. Needless to say, it was quite a heated discussion and rip-roaring way to start off my time on Comfort Zone.

            Since that first show, my radio experience has only gotten more exciting. We have covered a variety of topics and even had guests from local theatre productions. Sunday nights have become a highlight of my time at the University of Ghana. I have also learned more than I ever expected in a field I knew very little about. Being on the radio has taught me a tremendous amount about how to think on my feet and keep conversation going. Maxwell works with very little planning, which can be exciting but also a bit nerve-wracking. There have been times when he has handed me the mic with no warning and it is my job to ask the panelists questions or greet a caller. I am also slowly learning to use radio DJ software and technology. I love observing Maxwell’s every move as he flawlessly flows between music and speaking and phone calls. What seemed at first to be a mess of cords, switchboards, and microphones, now seems manageable to me.

             Through Maxwell and Radio Univers, I have been exposed to new people and a huge community that would have otherwise been unknown to me. The ease of getting involved in such an established organization so quickly amazes me and certainly differs from what I am used to at my home university. I never thought I would come to Ghana to host a relationship talk show, but here I am. I am excited to return home and test my new radio skills at my own university’s radio station. Who knows? By the end of the semester I may be ready to host my own show!



Carys (left) with Stella Mensah (Brown University)