American congress members are in Ghana to mark the 400th anniversary of the first-enslaved Africans landing in America.
The delegation includes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Whip James Clyburn, Congressional Black Caucus chairwoman Karen Bass, and House representatives Barbara Lee and John Lewis.
The delegation was welcomed on Sunday afternoon in Accra by U.S. Ambassador in Ghana Stephanie S. Sullivan and by Pelosi's counterpart, parliamentary speaker Aaron Mike Oquaye. They are expected to discuss "regional security, sustainable and inclusive development and the challenges including the climate crisis," the AP said.
As part of the anniversary, the delegation will visit Cape Coast Castle, Elmina Castle, and the Door of No Return, the gateway from which enslaved Africans were shipped across the sea. Cape Coast and Elmina Castles are about one of 40 slave castles built in Ghana by European traders.
Cape Coast Castle was established as a trading post by the Portuguese in 1555. The castle was later used to trade slaves. Large underground dungeons were built in the castle to hold thousands of slaves awaiting exportation. The dungeons were known as a place of "terror, death, and blackness". Elmina Castle is the oldest European building in existence in the south of the Saharan desert. It was built by the Portuguese in 1482, seized by the Dutch in 1637, and later became a possession of the British Empire in 1872. Though it also started as a trading post, it soon became of the most important stops in the trans-Atlantic slave trade route.
Black Caucus chairwoman Karen Bass said in a statement, "400 years ago this year, our ancestors were first brought to (the future United States) in chains. On this delegation, 12 members of the Congressional Black Caucus will return to the African continent as members of the United States Congress. We have come so far, but we still have so far to go."
Ghana expects thousands of people descended from slaves to make the trip in the "Year of Return".
Header Image Credit: Premium Times Nigeria