THE STORY OF THE PIKWORO SLAVE CAMP
A man went to Navorongo looking for a place to stay. The people gave him a vast piece of land. Little did they know that he was a slave trader. The people named him Nania Pikworo meaning, “a bush man” in the local language. Pikworo established the trade in 1704. He started it by himself but was later joined by Samori and Babatu.
This was the source of water for the slaves. It is believed that no matter the draught, this particular water remains active to satisfy the thirst of the slaves and help them do their chores.
We were led to their grinding mill where they used stones to grind their meals.
Fascinated children looked on
This was their entertainment hall. Four people were selected from one tribe to play here as the others sang and danced beneath the rocks. For them to play well, they were well fed and the feeding songs attracted others to come and watch, the feeding also attracted others to come and join the slaves. Those who realised they would be sold later and tried to run away were sent to the punishment rock to be dealt with. According to the history, some rebelled and were sent there severally in order to die. They preferred death to being sold.
Their dinning hall. They dug into the stones to create their own bowls. Bowls they ate in. So foods will be put into these bowls and more than five people will share a meal in one bowl.
It is a very big land
And many stones abound. It was noted that the slaves were tied on the trees when they are brought in.
This is the watch tower. A trusted slave is ordered to stand here and watch out for strangers and rebels who wanted to fight the slave lords for their captured people. These people never succeeded because the slave traders were more powerful and were armed with guns. So they were mostly gunned down before they reached the place.
Head of Department of English at Tamale Senior High posing to honour his ancestors.
Graves of dead slaves. According to the history, the dead slaves were given mass burials in a grave meant for one. So graves were never covered until they were filled up.
A filled grave looked like this, some stones were placed on it to mark its “fulfilment”
We were sad but as Kofi Awoonor will say, death shall die, and sincee slavery is dead now and Pikworo, Babatu, and samori are gone, we posed in honour of the “wronged” dead people
Just close to the cemetery is the Punishment Rock which faces directly the sun. So slaves who defied the rules were made to sit on this rock, tied firmly and made to look at the heated sun (those who know the Upper East of Ghana know the sun’s rays can kill if one does not take cover) so many went blind, others became weak and sickly and died. Immediately they died from the sun and the burns from the heated rocks, they were tossed into the ready grave.
So this is the punishment rock in all its threats even way after its meals of punishments have been abolished.
Tired from the heat of the sun and the dense thought of souls sold on this terrain coupled with the pain of death of many whose lives were never allowed to blossom let alone whither.
These men volunteer to play sounds with the stones to entertain us. All we needed to do was give them something to buy water out of the goodness of our hearts.
This is where the slaves were brought and paraded to be sold. They were sold based on their strengths and it was a barter trade. They were traded for mirrors, guns, gun powder and alcoholic drinks.
After being sold, they were fed a little before taken through the journey. Thise who became weak in the course of the journey were thrown into bushes that wild animals were. So the animals could feed on them.
Trees which has probably tasted more than millions of blood
The reception of the Pikworo Slave Camp.
You know it will not be us if we do not do something fun
The slave camp was abolished in 1845
On our way we realized that there were lots of baobab trees in Navorongo. They call it the evil tree but use its leaves for soup and seeds for drinks. According to the inhabitants, the baobab tree in houses are sometimes tied with bandages to prevent to prevent them from crying at night. When they grow to a point they cry at night like human beings. So they are not touched with knives. Their barks are smooth. They grow to their own capacity and die. But when they die, no body knows. Because they still look fresh. So they are considered dangerous because they can kill when they fall and they fall without notice.