After looking for things to do in Lome, I came across Agbodrafo. It is an original slave house built in 1835. I had a lot of curiosity and apprehension in visiting this house. I have been to several plantations in the united states but nothing that was symbolic of the Transatlantic slave trade from Africa.
“Built in 1835, the Woold Home belonged to a scottish slave trader John Henry Wood and was inhabited by a royal family. The chief Assiakoley had practiced slavery on Aného ribs but those were under the supervision of the British authorities and anti-slavery cruises. The Assiakoley leader and his associates went in the land without taking away from the sea in order to illegaly continue their trade. The house was hidden well enough and the chief Assiakoley was negotiating with tribal leaders in the north of the country to reduce their people to slavery.” – Syra Sylla of VisitAfrique.com
Given that my DNA results include Togolese ancestry, I couldn’t help but wonder if my ancestors had passed through this house or one very similar. I have been able to trace my history back to 1801, so it’s possible that I have family that could have been held captive here before being forced into slavery.
The docent for the house gave an excellent talk about the history of the house and the secrets it hid inside. I must have either been distracted or I would have caught the translation that we would in fact actually trace the same steps of the slaves by going through the small trap door into the house cellar. I was completely caught off guard! Before I knew it they were lowering me into the hole in the floor and I thought I would have a panic attack.
There was no turning back at that point, I continued under the house and a bit of paralysis set in, given the heat and the location. I couldn’t help but freeze. That moment of reflection was cut short because people on the tour started to get dropped in one by one. I learned very quickly that there was only one way out and I had to crawl under the house through a small brick opening and be lifted back up out of the crawl space.
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