Gillian White and Michael Jai White at Cape Coast Castle
Gillian Iliana White, an American actress and wife of actor and martial artist, Michael Jai White, has said she felt a lot of pains and also heartbroken after visiting the slave dungeons of the Cape Coast Castle in Ghana.
Gillian, together with her husband, had their DNA tests indicating they are Ghanaians, and they have been in the West African country for weeks.
She and her family are part of a tour programme dubbed ‘Full Circle Festival’ (FCF) which brought a number of Hollywood names to Ghana.
The year 2019 marks the 400th anniversary of the start of the West African slave trade and the FCF is one of the activities to facilitate the movement of persons of African descent to return home.
Gillian and the FCF team visited the historic castle in Cape Coast to get acquainted with history of the slave trade – one of the darkest periods of human history.
According to her, it took her a while to post images from the castle “… because, emotionally, it broke my heart and the pain I felt for my ancestors was real…so real….and it took time for me to truly process this entire experience. Sitting on the edge of the castle, looking out at this magnificent sea was breathtaking but at the same time extremely heartbreaking because I knew this same magnificent sea carried boats of my ancestors who were shackled, tortured and stolen from their land to be sold as slaves in America.”
“We were led down into the dungeons where they were held…it was stifling, unbearably hot and dark with only a tiny window with a sliver of light coming through…hundreds were forced in here like cattle…many died and the others who survived were kept among the dead sometimes for months until it was time for them to be taken away. I took it all in…the smell of the dungeons…the stains of blood and sickness forever engraved into the stone floors…I felt the walls where the holes still remained that held the shackles…closing my eyes, my mind could hear the cries and wails of mothers and children, elders and men….and I broke. A mixture of tears of anger and sadness ran hot and fast down my face and I ached inside for the souls of all that were taken from their Motherland. I can’t even explain how seeing my two daughters in tears, embrace and hold each other once we came out made me feel…it completely overwhelmed me.”
“To learn about the Transatlantic slave trade in grade school, to watch documentaries on it in high school, to imagine it as I read about it in books in my Howard University classes, could NEVER amount to the real lessons I learned actually being there…and I’m so glad our daughters got a chance to truly understand and feel the enormity of the African slave trade…something they never would have learned simply in a 2 page basic summary in a school history book. They took us away to never return, but we did…we did.”
Among other members of the FCF team touring Ghana are Anthony Anderson, Boris Kodjo, Michael Jai White, Nicole Ari Parker and Bozoma Saint John.