|The Door of No Return, Cape Coast Castle, Ghana. Photo © Lori Gravley. |
In Ghana, one such place of embarkation was Cape Coast Castle. Slaves were pulled from dungeons here and led in shackles down this hall to small boats that waited to take them to great ships.
When they went through this door, they may or may not have known that they would never return to homes from all over Africa where they had been taken by other Africans and sold to white traders who would ferried them to the new world.
In the twentieth century, the ancestors of slaves who had been taken began to return. Some of them performed a ritual celebrating that return by walking from the ocean side pictured through the door to the fortress through this hall where there ancestors had left Africa hundreds of years before. Above the door on the other side is a sign which says "Door of Return."
Much has been written by scholars and story tellers about the slave trade, the middle passage, and slavery. You might be inspired to research and add to those stories and imaginings, but for me, the notion of forced exit and eventual return is a rich and readily accesible human circumstance that doesn't require research or a vast knowledge of history (Prodigal Son, anyone). My prompts come from there.
Five Ideas for Writing
1. Write about a time someone was forced to leave something she didn't want to leave?
2. Write about a time someone came back to a place he never thought he'd see again?
3. Write about a door that changes those who walk through it?
4. Write about thresholds. Why do people cross over? How much choice do people have in what happens on the other side?
5. What if someone didn't want to leave but once they got through the door to the other side, they didn't want to come back through but were forced to. What would happen (besides grabbing the door and kicking and screaming)?
Or write about anything else the picture inspires. Cheers.
(Note: The someone above may be you ;-)