This presentation interrogates the idea of complete silence on the part of Africans as articulated in the literature on enslavement. The purpose is to share some of the ways in which Africans on the continent responded to the unending subject of the trade in enslaved Africans. The basic premise is that silence is both unnatural and impossible as a response to such a prolonged and devastating phenomenon. In support of this hypothesis, the discussion shares many types of evidence that refute the theory of silence. It begins by an examination of the common aspects of the physical structure of the slave castles. It continues by focusing on two sites, out of many: Ganvie in present day Republic of Benin and Nzulezo, in Ghana. Both have been chosen because they are unique settlements on water, offering ways in which the natural environment was employed in the aid of self-preservation and later to serve as a means of remembrance. The settlements came about because humans decided to do what all humans will do: defend themselves against attack.
Opoku-Agyemang, who earned her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from York University in Toronto, Canada, has chaired or served on 20 national boards in Ghana. She also served on the executive board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The author of nine books and numerous articles and papers, her research interests include literature by African women, Ghana’s oral literature, and issues related to the trade in enslaved Africans. In 2006, she addressed the United Nations General Assembly during events marking the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery.
During her visit to Kennesaw State, Vice Chancellor Opoku-Agymeng was accompanied by Isaac R. Amuah, director of the UCC’s Center for International Education; Isaac Ohene, university registrar, and assistant registrar, Alberta Yaa Graham; Juliana Boateng, distance education and Elaine Kwani.
The delegation visited a class on the history of Ghana; met with representatives of the Center for Student Leadership, the Center for Conflict Management, the Ph.D. program in International Conflict Management and the Bagwell College student teaching abroad program. They also participated in workshops on teaching in Africa and attended sessions with Kennesaw State’s Ghanaian students and students who have studied abroad in Ghana.