Arguably the most harrowing moment in Laquasha Logan’s sojourn to Ghana, Africa last week was when she entered “Slave River.”
“Slave River” was the location where 12 million slaves, still shackled and tired from walking for three straight months, were allowed to finally bathe before they arrived at Elmina Castle. Elmina Castle is where they were held before they were sold and transported by boat.
“It was quite a sight because the water was tinted red and myself and the other members of the tour stepped into it,” said Logan, a senior at Whitney Young High School visiting the country with other Chicago students through a scholarship program.
“I just thought ‘my goodness, this was the first time they bathed or rested in months,'” Logan said of Slave River. “It really put several things into perspective about my own life.”
However, Logan’s first-ever excursion to “the motherland” was not filled with just the horrid aspects of the country’s history.
Logan found most of the trip a cornucopia of beautiful scenery, united families and children frolicking in the sun.
Last summer, associate minister Bernard Lilly and Rev. Ira Acree of Greater St. John Bible Church heard about a scholarship offered through Sankofa Youth African Connection, which allowed students to apply for the two-week Africa trip.
Acree and Lilly thought of Logan, 17, who was a member of church.
“Reverend Acree pushed me to write an essay about what it would mean to me to go to Africa for the first time, and I did just that,” said Logan, an Austin resident.
“Two weeks later, I was contacted by the scholarship committee. I was chosen along with four other students to go. I nearly lost it. I was so excited.”
When she arrived in Ghana, the sun had already set (dusk arrives at 6:15 p.m. every day). Logan and her group were greeted with a celebratory dinner.
“[During the celebration] a drum and dance troop performed for us,” Logan said. “It set the stage for the drumming and dancing lessons we received every day of the trip. It was highly festive.”
Logan said that she was surprised by the amount of domestic food that was offered in Ghana, such as cheeseburgers and baked chicken. Every dish, though, was served with fried rice.
“I’ve had a lot of fried rice but they had the best I’ve ever tasted,” Logan said.
Logan added that in Ghana, because she was an American, she was considered to be comparatively rich as money goes much further in Ghana than it would in America.
“The trip really made me appreciate what I have because there, they are so friendly, everyone is smiling and holding hands, even the men and women who are not particularly well-to-do,” she said. “The vibe is like, ‘we are a brotherhood and we must support each other’, and strangers are treated the same way.”
Along the lines of the ‘family theme’ Logan said that many of the married women are domesticated and take care of the home front while the men of Ghana work. However, the women will sometimes run little shops from their homes.
“Accra is the capitol of Ghana and there are a lot of little shops extending through the city,” she said.
Logan also had the opportunity to meet with the King of the Ashante tribe.
“He actually told me I looked like one of his wives, which I thought was funny,” she recalled. “He once had 300 wives and 700 concubines, but since converting to Christianity he only had three wives.”