Aaron Azumah, a tour guide demonstrating how the grinding was done by the slaves. Looking on are Akwasi Agyeman (left), CEO, GTA and other guests during a visit to the camp
Aaron Azumah, a tour guide demonstrating how the grinding was done by the slaves. Looking on are Akwasi Agyeman (left), CEO, GTA and other guests during a visit to the camp

Pikworo Slave Camp - Starting point of dreadful journey to the West

The Pikworo Slave Camp located in Nania in the Kassena Nankana West District is one of the interesting places in the Upper East Region that played a crucial role in the slave trade.

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It is where the slave route started from, through Salaga to Bono Manso and Assin Manso before ending in Cape Coast and Elmina.

History

Established in 1704, the camp was initially developed by slave masters to serve as a transit point where captives were auctioned and resold in the slave market in Salaga in the then Northern Region.

After auctioning the slaves, they were made to walk for about 150 kilometres south to the slave market at Salaga through to Bono Manso in the Bono East Region, Assin Manso, Cape Coast and then to the Elmina Castle before they were transported to Europe.

History has it that the camp was discovered by Bagao, one of the three slave masters, to serve as a holding place for slaves from northern Africa.

The two other slave masters were Babatu Zato from Burkina Faso and Samori Toure, who came from Mali. 

Dreadful journey

A tour guide, Aaron Azumah, who disclosed these to the Daily Graphic, said the slaves at the camp went through several processes before they were auctioned and sold to merchants. Firstly, upon arrival at the camp, the slaves were chained to trees and later made to walk uphill for food and water.

At the eating area, oval-shaped shallow holes had been created within the rocks, which served as bowls from which the slaves ate.

The security point at the Slave Camp

The security point at the Slave Camp

At the same place, a crevice within a rock, where water had been oozing out for centuries, even in the dry season, was the source of water for the slaves.

There was also a grinding area where the female slaves were made to grind grains and other ingredients to prepare meals, as well as an area where two huge rocks were used as drums, with some stones on their flat surfaces, for entertainment.

Striking the stones on different parts of the rocks produced various sounds to which the slaves sang and danced.

It also served as the place at the camp where the slaves assembled before the merchants were called in to buy them for onward sale at the Salaga Slave Market.

The place also served as a security post where guards stood on top of high rocks to ensure that no slave tried to escape.

An indigene and Chairman of the Paga Youth Movement, Wenawome D. Aborah, said the establishment of the Slave Camp had placed the area on the tourism map, consequently boosting tourism in the town.

He noted that tourists who visited the community invested in the local economy, leading to improvement in the living standard of the local people.

Emancipation Day, PANAFEST

Meanwhile, beginning next year, the Emancipation Day and Pan African Festival (PANAFEST) celebration will commence from the camp.

Hitherto, the celebration started in Accra.

However, the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) says that henceforth, it will officially begin from the camp for people from the diaspora and Ghanaians to fully understand the chronology of events surrounding the slave trade.

In view of that, the GTA has commenced work to give a facelift to the Pikworo Slave Camp.

The GH¢1million project which is expected to be completed within five months includes the construction of an imposing frontage, landscaping of the camp, fencing of the entire site, mounting of signages, construction of washrooms, walling of captives’ graveyard and the construction of tombs.

Speaking in an interview with the Daily Graphic at the camp recently, the Chief Executive Officer of the GTA, Akwasi Agyeman, said “Since the entire slave trade began from the Pikworo Slave Camp, we have decided to fully develop it to portray a clearer understanding of what transpired to tourists and patrons of the facility.”

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He added that the story of the slave trade, though unfortunate, needed to be preserved, hence the decision to properly develop the camp and others that played a role in the slave trade.

Writer’s email: [email protected]

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