Ghana’s colonial name ‘Gold Coast’ may downplay the high number of slaves shipped out, coming from as far as Nigeria, walking to the many castles and ports along the Gulf. One such place was the Danish pride, Fort Prinzenstein, or ‘Prince’s Rock,’ that was ultimately sold to the British in 1850.
Unlike the Portuguese fort Cabo Corso, which became Cape Coast Castle, Fort Prinzenstein had very limited structural reinforcement. Furthermore, it was unfortunately constructed on the Keta isthmus, and the deteriorating coastlines brought sand erosion and sea storms to the fort’s back gate – the Gate of No Return – ultimately demolishing half the structure in 1980. To have seen Fort Prinzenstein in its former glory would certainly have been marvelous. I lamented that such an important element of historical remembrance and emotional closure was fading away with each passing year.
Like any slave castle, the stories are gruesome. The prison cells (for Prinzenstein served as a prison for the community until the 1980s) and former slave holdings are inhumane. Unique to Fort Prinzenstein, however, are the myths surrounding certain tribes’ abilities to pass through walls – corroborated by the human remains inexplicably lodged in the 3-foot-thick walls – add an aura of mystery perhaps missing from the Cape Coast tour.