Backpacking from Accra to Cape Coast: Father forgive them
I had heard all about the harrowing stories of Cape Coast. This was after all perhaps the biggest hub in the transportation of slaves to the new world. My mood, however, was not that of sadness, nor bitterness or filled with revenge. Perhaps the overwhelming feeling was what I captured on the back of this taxi – Father Forgive Them.
Blessing dropped us off in front of the Cape Coast castle. We hadn’t made arrangements for accommodation in true backpacking style.
We thought we’d get there first then ask around for anything half decent we could board in. As it turned out we were inundated with information on accommodation by self appointed local guides the moment we got out of the taxi in front of the castle. We came across the Baobab House, a quick five minute walk away from the castle towards town. The Baobab Guest House has a decent view of the beach area, the fishermen’s area and Cape Coast’s busy town centre. Their rooms are furnished with cane and bamboo furniture with batik bed sheets and curtains, all produced by Students of the Baobab School. The Baobab school project run by the guest house supports children in the region who are unable to pay their school and feeding fees. Clean toilets and showers are shared in the courtyard. It’s German receptionist had been in Cape Coast for over three months and was volunteer.
We shared the biggest room at the Baobab House which also happened to be on the top floor with somewhat decent views. The room had mosquito netting and two beds and a floor mattress. This was certainly no five stars, perhaps not even one, but that didn’t bother us. We were only here for the night and we knew our boarding fees went towards an admirable course.
Within 10 minutes we had dumped our rucksacks and made our way back out onto the streets to explore. I was first struck by the “Black Star” bookshop next door to the Baobab House.
The name “black star” has a deep significance in Ghana’s national consciousness. The flag of Ghana consists of red, gold and green horizontal stripes with a five-pointed black star in the centre of the gold stripe. The colour red represents the blood of those who died in the country’s struggle for independence: gold stands for the mineral wealth, while green symbolizes the rich forest. The black star was adopted from the flag of the Black Star Line, a shipping line incorporated by Marcus Garvey that operated from 1919 to 1922, and gives the Ghana national football team their nickname, the Black Stars.
We walked downtown towards the Kotokuraba market. It was a long stretch of road filled with plenty to see and talk about. This was the main economic hub of Cape Coast with stores and stalls dotted along it.
Halfway through the street was the crab sculpture where the road split into two. This sculptor brings into focus the meaning of the name “Kotokuraba”. The name of the market means ‘crab village’ and was given by early settlers who made their living from the abundance of crabs in the bay.
Kotokuraba market proper, which unfortunately had been built over by a monstrosity of a structure funded by the Chinese. There was even time in the local pub for a quick one with punters who were fixated to the local news on the old TV by the bar. We doubled back to get to the Baobab house about an hour or so later.