Global Programs
May 2017 Field ​Study
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Ghana map and flag
Morgan Parker


Morgan Parker

Aggie Law Class of 2019

Land Use Conflicts and Access to Justice

Weekend Travels in Rural Ghana
by Morgan Parker
Ghana canopy walkwayTraversing the Kakum National Forest canopy walkway.

Africa wasn’t all work and no play! Our first weekend in Ghana we piled in the bus at 4 a.m. and had a jam-packed day visiting the Kakum National Forest, Cape Coast and the small fishing village of Elmina.

The Kakum National Forest is a 375-square kilometer tropical rain forest reserve that was established as a national park in 1992. The forest is home to monkeys, antelopes, African elephants and 105 types of vascular plants, all of which are ​edible, even if only once!

The forest is also home to a 1,150 foot canopy walkway consisting of seven bridges strung from tree to tree. After hiking through the forest and learning about the local wildlife, we hit the canopy. From bridge to bridge the panoramic views were mind-blowing. Just don’t look down!

Hiking through the forest sure gave us an appetite. We drove to the nearby town of Cape Coast for lunch on the beach. Who would have thought that you could travel to Africa and visit a tropical rainforest and a beach on the same day? Many traditional foods such as jollof rice, jerk chicken, boiled yams, red red, plantains, fufu soup and much more were on the buffet.

Ghana Elmina window barsView from inside Elmina Castle
After re-energizing, we traveled to Elmina. This charming fishing village has a dark past full of suffering and anguish. It is home to São Jorge da Mina (St. George of the Mine) Castle or Feitoria da Mina, now known as the Elmina Castle. The castle was built by the Portuguese in 1482 as a trading post for gold, ivory, and later, African slaves. By the seventeenth century, the castle had become a significant part of the West African Slave Trade. The Dutch seized the fort in 1637 and continued the slave trade until 1814. Its dungeons could hold up to 1,000 male and 500 female slaves at a time. They were shackled and cramped in dark, damp and poorly ventilated cells. They were barely fed, and given little water. Not only was their freedom stripped, but their spirits were broken.

As we walked the paths taken by tens of thousands of slaves, I felt the pain of the men and women who were forced to board ships through the door of no return, bound for a foreign land. In the height of the slave trade nearly 30,000 people passed though Elmina every year, some of whom died aboard the ships, never to reach their final destination.

The whole experience was humbling and eye-opening. It’s perhaps easy for some to think about the slave trade as a chapter in a history book, but it was harder to stomach while standing where these people were captured, tortured and killed.

This day in Ghana was filled with many wonders and memories that will stay with me for years to come. If you ever find yourself in Ghana be sure to experience the wondrous rain forest views, travel down the beautiful coastal Gulf of Guinea, and be humbled by the stories at Elmina Castle.

Ghana Kakum Forest Morgan Parker3L Elan Moore, 3L Megan Reed and blogger 2L Morgan Parker enjoy the view atop the canopy walkway in the Kakum National Forest.
Ghana Kakum Forest canopy walkwayThe Kakum ​​National Park features a rain forest canopy walkway which consists of seven bridges str​ung between the trees.
Ghana Kakum Forest finish"You Survived" greets us at the finish of the Kakum Forest canopy walkway.
Ghana Cape CoastOur view of the Cape of Guinea from our lunch spot in Cape Coast.
Ghana Elmina cannonElmina fishing harbor from atop Elmina Castle.​ Cannons faced the sea, as attack from pirates or other Europeans was a greater threat than attack from inland Africans.
Ghana Elmina cellA single slave confinement cell in Elmina Castle used for individuals who re​belled or were disrupting other slaves in the large dungeons.
Ghana Elmina common area​One of the common areas at the Elmina Castle. Men standing ​​on this top balcony ​could bid on the female slaves ​held below.