THE DOOR OF NO RETURN
by William St Clair
Along the western coast of Africa, from where the Sahara desert ends in the north to the Cape of Good Hope in the south, are the remains of many castles, forts, and temporary lodges built by the Portuguese, the Spanish, the Dutch, the French, the Germans of the Duchy of Brandenburg, the Danes, the Swedes, and the British. Other countries, notably the United States and Brazil, which had no slaving forts, had fleets of slaving ships. However, nowhere are there such vivid monuments to the transatlantic slave trade as along the coast of Ghana, where about sixty forts were built, some within sight –and even cannon range– of each other. Although that stretch of the African coast was difficult for sailing ships to approach, it was more accessible than either the coast to the west, which was skirted by shallow sandy lagoons, or the coast further to the east, where the deltas of the rivers Volta and Niger caused other problems for mariners. Most of these forts still stand, either adapted for later uses or in various states of ruin.