On my fourth day in Ghana, I experienced some highs (literally) and some emotional lows.
We started the day with maybe an hour drive to Cape Coast.
Our driver, Leo, explained the differences in the communities as we made our way to Cape Coast. Although I could not readily see differences, it was interesting learning that they in fact were. He explained the people had different values, different work ethics, etc.
Still recovering from the jet lag of a 24 hour flight day a few days earlier, I slept most of the way. However, when I was awake, I marveled at the women with babies on their backs and all sorts of goods for sale on their heads. They were a beautiful picture of strength, motherhood, hustle, and resilience that reminded me of myself…although I definitely recognized they are stronger. Seeing them also gave me greater appreciation for many aspects of my life.
When we stopped, we were at Kakum National Park. On a conference call before the trip, fellow speaker, Valda, had asked if we could do the Canopy Walk. That sounded nice and relaxing, but when we got there I learned what it really was.
We hiked up and through the park. It was beautiful seeing the tourists who were apparently African but not from Ghana. There were even kids working and walking with us. They spoke various languages, and we all bonded to a certain degree getting our exercise over the journey up. I definitely got my leg workout in.
But I wasn’t prepared for what was next.
When we got to a high point (higher than I realized), we were given instructions by our tour guide. She explained that we could take one of two paths. We could get on the first bridge or we could take a path back down to where we had started. Bridge? What bridge?
Well, we got on that first bridge and learned that taking that step meant we had to continue through (and up) on the next six bridges. Bridges suspended high in the air.
There was a small platform for a break between each bridge.
I never looked down. I only got an idea of just how high we were by looking over a very tall tree that was basically eye level with me. Seeing that made me short of breath, but I kept going. I had no choice because I couldn’t turn around on the narrow bridge. People were behind me.
So I kept going. Pretty much like I do in life. Scared. Just keep going.
I survived, and I was glad I pushed myself to do it!
When we made across all seven bridges, we were welcomed by the beautiful sound of drummers and a dancer who immediately made her way over to Justin. It was fun to watch and amazing to hear.
The sights, the sounds…the feeling. I was in Ghana.
It was beautiful. Even though I didn’t understand the languages being spoken (other than English), I felt so comfortable. So welcome. At home…even outside in Kakum National Park.
We enjoyed the beating of the drums so much that it was hard to leave.
When we did, Leo drove us to Cape Coast Resort for lunch. I had another delicious chicken dish, no jollof rice this time. And we had drinks that the bartender made especially for us.
As I sat there enjoying the delicious food, beautiful weather, and amazing view, I witnessed what looked like a photo for a postcard. Four people walked along the beach in a line demonstrating more of that strength, grace, and beauty I had seen daily while in Ghana.
It was good that we had that moment to relax and brace ourselves for what was next.
We toured the castle. Standing in rooms where hundreds of slaves lived, died, or stayed until they were shipped away.
The thoughts, the feelings…the deep sadness as I reflected on what it must have been like to be piled in those rooms lit only by a small window high up the wall. Where they used the bathroom, threw up, and even died.
I felt sick to my stomach as I listened to what our people endured and many did not survive.
Our tour guide led us through the various rooms – the male slave dungeon, the female slave dungeon, and the cell (where it was known you were going to die). We even saw where they held church above the dungeons where slaves endured hell.
We learned about that the babies born to raped slaves were often kept in Ghana while the mothers were shipped away.
As our tour guide led us to the Door of No Return, I felt paralyzed.
Almost a fear as if the sign on the door was for me. It was unreal. Then I got an overwhelmed with the realization that it was because of what happened beyond that door was the very reason that I am African AMERICAN.
Heavy-hearted but more aware, we headed back to Accra to reflect on what we had experienced.
I’m Summer Owens, and my passion is helping youth and young adults realize success no matter what obstacles they face. As an international resilience and leadership keynote speaker, author, S.O. What! Success Coach, and creator of the S.O. What! Literacy, Life Skills, and Character Education curriculum, I empower people to say, “So what!” to even their greatest challenges. provide a framework to help people see past their challenges and focus on solutions using the S.O. What! Success System (Overcome Obstacles + Eliminate Excuses + Calculate Choices = S.O. What! Success). Through keynotes, workshops, books, online courses, and workbooks, I use life’s challenges and my own story of resilience as a rape survivor and teen mom success story to help others confidently pursue their dreams.
Looking for an inspiring college motivational speaker? A high school literacy curriculum? A middle school life skills workbook? A great example for teen mothers? A women’s empowerment or single mother’s conference speaker? I’m your girl and will help any audience say, “S.O. What!”.