African Politics in Perspective: Groups, Governance, and Growth


Multimedia Project: Conversation with the Past, Slavery and How We Reconcile with the Past.

Michael Bediako


A fictional time-travel dialogue between two enslaved women, Ama and Abena.  It is written as a movie script.



On Monday, 13th March 2023, I moderated a roundtable discussion at Palava Hall of the Cape Coast Castle in Ghana on the capitalism of slavery and how we reconcile with the Past. On the panel were two African Americans, a Ghanaian professor of archaeology, and the former director of the castle, who’s also a local.


The discussion was heavy and necessary, like announcing the death of a loved one.  The location was also drenched in its infamy. Palava Hall was the “auction room” of the Cape Coast Castle, where enslaved people were traded before being stored in the dungeons before shipment. We mournfully discussed power, oppression, dehumanization, race and racism, resistance and resilience, legacies and reparations. A panellist, Prof Apoh, argued that the castle is not just a historical site but the remnants of millions of graves, human waste, residues and historical artefacts that embodied enslaved Africans’ horrific experiences. I closed the session by calling on the participants to retell the horrors of the dungeon they have witnessed, called for reparations and encouraged the African diaspora to leverage the Year of Return as a bridge to find their roots.


After the panel, I stood quietly at Palava Hall’s cathedral-like windows overlooking the castle canons. Below the castle canons were the female slave dungeons. I imagine the stories of young Africans torn away from their families, in anguish for the unknown journey ahead. I imagined the loss of family, innocence and the dehumanizing of Africans into commodities of trade. In this media project, I imagine four time-travel dialogues between two enslaved women, Abena and Ama. The first dialogue was on 30th January, 1805, in the dungeons of the Cape Coast Castle, about how they were captured, their family, their anguish of the middle passage and their hope of a future return to their homeland. The second dialogue was on 31st January, 1805, about the justification and contradiction between Christianity and slavery, a day before they were shipped to enslavement in Jamestown, Virginia. The third dialogue was on 31st January, 1865, when the US Congress ratified the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery in the United States. And finally, on 31st January, 1866, a year after abolishing slavery, Abena and Ama returned to the Cape Coast Castle, 60 years after their enslavement in America, to find their family.


1st dialogue: 30th January, 1805



The Portuguese built the Cape Coast Castle in the 16th century as a hub for the transatlantic slave trade. They can hear the sound of waves colliding against the beach. ABENA and AMA sit side by side on the damp stone floor of the dungeon, staring blankly ahead. They are both young women, barely in their twenties and wear tattered clothing that barely covers their bodies. The sound of chains clanking fills the air.


ABENA: (whispering) Ama, are you awake?

AMA: (also whispering) Yes, Abena. What is it?

ABENA: (voice shaking) I had a dream last night. I dreamt of Home.

AMA: (eyes widening) Home? What was it like?

ABENA: (voice wistful) It was beautiful. The sun was up, shining, and the birds were singing melodic tunes. I was dancing with my family, and I loved to dance.

ABENA: (speaking softly) Ama, do you ever think about how we got here?

AMA: (shaking her head) All the time. But what good does it do? It only makes the pain worse.

ABENA: I know. But I can’t help but wonder. What did we do to deserve this?

AMA: (bitterly) We did nothing. That’s the problem. We were born into the wrong place at the wrong time. We were born Black. We were born African.

ABENA: (nodding) I remember the day they came for me. I was working on the farm with my family, and then suddenly, there were white men on horses, and they were pointing guns at us.

AMA: (eyes wide) Guns?

ABENA: Yes. They beat us with the guns and dragged us into chains, we walked for three weeks on foot from Salaga, and we’ve been here ever since. I miss my family so much.

AMA: (voice trembling) Me too. I had a husband and two children. I don’t know what’s become of them.

ABENA: (reaching out to touch AMA’s hand) I’m sorry, sister. I wish I could take away your pain.

AMA: (sighing) It’s not just my pain. It’s the pain of all our people—the pain of everyone who’s been taken from their Home and forced to endure this hell. And now we’re here, in this dungeon, waiting to be sold to the highest bidder. It’s a nightmare.

ABENA: (voice rising) And for what? So white people can have cheap labour? So they can build their empires on our backs?

AMA: (nodding) It’s a cruel world we live in.

ABENA: (voice softening) But we’re not alone, Ama. We have each other. And we have hope.

AMA: (looking at ABENA) Hope? What hope is there in this place?

ABENA: (smiling slightly) The hope that someday we’ll be free. That we’ll return to our homeland and live the life we were meant to live.

AMA: (sceptical) Do you really believe that’s possible?

ABENA: (nodding) I have to believe it. Otherwise, what’s the point of living?

AMA: (thoughtful) You’re right. We must hold on to something, even if it’s just a dream.

ABENA: (smiling) It’s more than a dream, Ama. It’s a promise. A promise to ourselves and our people that we won’t give up. That we won’t let them break us.

AMA: (taking ABENA’s hand) I believe you. And I promise to hold on to that hope with you.

ABENA: (squeezing AMA’s hand) Together, we can survive anything.

AMA: (smiling) Yes. Together.


They sit silently for a moment, holding hands, until footsteps echo through the dungeon.

Suddenly, the door to the dungeon opens, and a group of white men, including a slave trader named JOHN, enter.


JOHN: (smirking) Well, well, well. What do we have here? Two pretty little things.

ABENA: (voice shaking) Please, sir. Leave us be.

JOHN: (laughing) Oh, I don’t think so. You two are worth a fortune.

AMA: (voice rising) We’re not objects to be bought and sold. We’re human beings.

JOHN: (voice mocking) Oh, spare me the sermon. You’re property. And you’ll do as I say.

ABENA: (voice pleading) Please, sir. We have families. We have lives.

JOHN: (voice cold) And you’ll never see them again. Now, get up.


The white men roughly drag Abena back to Palava Hall. ABENA and AMA reluctantly let go of each other’s hands and stand up, their chains clanking as they do.


ABENA: (whispering to AMA) Remember, sister. We’re not alone.

AMA: (nodding) We’re never alone.


They are led out of the dungeon and into the blinding sunlight, where they join a group of other enslaved people being herded towards the staircase leading up to the trading hall.


2nd dialogue: 31st January, 1805



ABENA and AMA sit in a dark, cramped dungeon, their chains clanking as they move.

ABENA: (whispering) Ama, do you hear that?

AMA: (also whispering) Hear what?

ABENA: (voice excited) It sounds like singing. And preaching.

AMA: (voice sceptical) Preaching? What could they be preaching about in this place?

ABENA: (voice hopeful) Maybe it’s a sign. Maybe they’re talking about freedom.


The two women strain to listen, and the sound of preaching grows louder. They can hear a man’s voice, speaking with conviction and authority.


PREACHER: (voice booming) And so, my brothers and sisters, I implore you to embrace the teachings of Christ. For He is the way, the truth, and the light.

ABENA: (voice puzzled) Who is that man? And what is he talking about?

AMA: (voice incredulous) That’s a preacher in the church above us.

ABENA: (voice hopeful) Maybe he’ll speak out against slavery. Maybe he’ll help us.

AMA: (voice sceptical) Don’t count on it. These preachers are just as bad as the slave traders. They use religion to justify their greed and cruelty.

ABENA: (voice thoughtful) But what about the Bible? Doesn’t it say that all men are created equal?

AMA: (voice bitter) The Bible can say whatever it wants. The fact is, these white men don’t see us as equals. They see us as property. As animals.

ABENA: (voice rising) But what about the teachings of Jesus? Doesn’t he preach love and compassion?

AMA: (voice angry) Love and compassion? Look around you, Abena. Do you see any love or compassion in this place? Do you see any humanity?

ABENA: (voice resolute) I refuse to believe that. I refuse to believe that God would allow this kind of evil to exist in the world.

AMA: (voice softening) I’m not saying there isn’t a God. I’m just saying that His followers can be hypocrites. They can use His teachings to justify their own selfish desires.

ABENA: (voice determined) But we can’t give up hope. We have to believe that there’s a way out of this. That there’s a better life waiting for us.

Suddenly, the door to the dungeon opens, and a group of white men, including a slave trader named JOHN, enter.

JOHN: (smirking) Well, well, well. What do we have here? My two pretty little things. It is time for you to make me money.

Two other armed white men roughly drag ABENA and AMA out of the dungeon towards the ‘Door of no return’ onto a waiting ship. ABENA and AMA keep screaming as they’re dragged through the dungeons’ damp stone floor; please, please!


3rd dialogue: 31st January, 1865



ABENA and AMA, now two elderly African-American women, sit on a bench overlooking the James River. They are dressed in simple but clean clothing, and their faces show the wear and tear of a long life. Despite their age, they are still strong and determined.


ABENA: (voice strong) I can’t believe we made it this far, Ama.

AMA: (voice resolute) We made it because we had each other. And because we never gave up hope.

ABENA: (voice pensive) But look at this place. It’s so different from where we came from.

AMA: (voice bitter) Different? This place is built on the same foundation as the slave trade. The foundation of capitalism.

ABENA: (voice curious) Capitalism?

AMA: (voice angry) Yes, capitalism. The idea  that money is more important than people and that some people can own other people and use them for their own profit.

ABENA: (voice thoughtful) But didn’t we hear some white folks talking about reparations? About making up for the harm, they did to us?

AMA: (voice dismissive) Talk is cheap, Abena. But they never follow through.

ABENA: (voice rising) But what about our own power? Our own ability to make a change?

AMA: (voice firm) Our power lies in our unity. Our strength in our numbers. And our hope for our future.

ABENA: (voice hopeful) Our future?

AMA: (voice determined) Yes, our future. A future where we return to our homeland. To Ghana. And we rebuild it into an Afro-futurist country.

ABENA: (voice questioning) An Afro-futurist country?

AMA: (voice excited) Yes. A country that is built on our own values. We use our resources to create a better life for ourselves and our families.

ABENA: (voice sceptical) But how do we do that, Ama? We don’t have the resources, and we don’t have the power.

AMA: (voice confident) We have each other, Abena. And we have our knowledge. We know how to farm. We know how to build. And we know how to survive.

ABENA: (voice curious) But what about the white man? Won’t they try to stop us?

AMA: (voice resolute) They will try. But they can’t stop us from dreaming. They can’t stop us from believing in a better future.

ABENA: (voice rising) And what about reparations? Shouldn’t we demand them?

AMA: (voice firm) Yes, we should demand them. But we can’t rely on them. We have to make our own way. We have to create our own destiny.

ABENA: (voice thoughtful) Our own destiny.

AMA: (voice confident) Yes, our own destiny. A destiny that starts with us. And our determination to create a better future for ourselves and our families.

ABENA: (voice resolute) Then let’s start our journey, Ama. Let’s begin our journey back to Ghana.

AMA: (voice strong) Yes, let’s start our journey. And let’s show the world what it means to be truly free.


4th dialogue: 31st January, 1866



ABENA and AMA, two recently emancipated Ghanaian women in their eighties, stand outside the Cape Castle, a historic fortress in Ghana where they were once held captive as enslaved people. They gaze at the castle with a mixture of sadness and hope. They have returned to Ghana after 60 years in America, hoping to find their long-lost family.


ABENA: (voice shaking) It’s been so long since we’ve been here, Ama. It looks different now.

AMA: (voice resolute) But the memories are still the same, Abena. The memories of our capture and enslavement.

ABENA: (voice emotional) And the memories of our families. The ones we lost.

AMA: (voice determined) We’ll find them, Abena. We’ll find them, no matter what it takes.

ABENA: (determined) Yes, we do.

As they enter the castle, they are greeted by a TOUR GUIDE, a young Ghanaian man in his late twenties.

TOUR GUIDE: Welcome to Cape Castle. My name is Kofi. I’ll be your guide today.

ABENA and AMA follow Kofi through the castle, stopping at various points of interest as Kofi gives them a historical tour of the fortress. As they make their way down to the dungeons, they pause at a room where Kofi explains the process of branding slaves.

AMA: (trembling) I remember the pain of that branding. It was like they were marking us as animals.

ABENA: (comforting) We’ve come a long way from those days, my sister. But we must never forget.

Kofi leads them down to the dungeons, where ABENA and AMA were once held captive. The air is thick with sadness and despair.

AMA: (overwhelmed) I can still feel the pain and anguish of this place.

ABENA: (emotional) Our ancestors suffered so much in these dungeons. But we have to keep moving forward, for them and for ourselves.

As they walk through the dungeons, AMA notices something strange on Kofi’s wrist. She reaches out to touch it and realizes that Kofi has the same birthmark as her own.

AMA: (shocked) Kofi, where did you get this birthmark?

KOFI: (confused) It’s just a birthmark, ma’am. I’ve had it all my life.

AMA: (excited) No, no, no. I had the same birthmark. It’s the same shape and size. Are you my grandson?

KOFI: (taken aback) What? How could that be possible?

ABENA: (curious) What’s going on here?

AMA: (explaining) I had a daughter before I was captured and taken to America. I never saw him again, but he had the same birthmark as Kofi.

ABENA: (shocked) Oh, my. Could it be possible?

KOFI: (tearful) I never knew my grandmother. My mother never spoke of her, but I always felt a connection to this place.

AMA: (emotional) I can’t believe it. After all these years, I’ve found my family.

ABENA: (smiling) It’s a miracle.


Kofi leads them to the Palava hall, now a DNA testing lab for returnees, where they take a test to confirm their relationship. A few hours later, they receive the results, confirming that Kofi is indeed AMA’s grandson.

AMA: (tearful) I can’t believe it. I have a grandson. My daughter’s child.


ABENA: (happy) It’s a blessing, my sister. After all the pain and suffering, you’ve found your family.

AMA: (determined) We must go to our village and rebuild our family. We need to make a better life for our people and future generations.

ABENA: (nodding) Yes, we do. It’s time for us to take our destiny into our own hands.


They leave the castle, determined to return to their village.



Although these dialogues are a figment of my imagination, they are meaningful because they breathe humanity into the life and stories of the voiceless millions of Africans cheated of living humane lives. They were forced to live and die as commodities. We, born free, are responsible for telling their stories as full individual human beings. We, born with the privileges of leadership, have a higher responsibility to never again allow such injustice to be perpetuated against humanity. I promise to uphold this. 


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