DEDICATION OF THE ATORKOR SLAVE MEMORIAL
(The Anlo Traditional Council of Chiefs)
Atorkor is a small settlement in the Anlo area of the Volta Region of Ghana, or what was formerly known as the Upper Slave Coast. As fate will have it, the pressure for African captives was to have drawn this sleepy village into the midst of the events of the Middle Passage. The preoccupation was to avoid being made captive by European slavers who were known to make raids in unsuspecting coastal villages, or from raids by more powerful neighbors. No thanks to its cove in that rough part of the Atlantic coast of boiling water, Atorkor became a port for shipment of captives procured from the interior. The Danes were the main buyers of slaves in that part of the Slave Coast. However, in 1792, the Danes abolished the slave trade and ban it to its nationals in 1803.
Britain was to join later in 1807. Both nations took steps to stop the slave trade in the Gold Coast and the Upper Slave Coast. By 1860, the trade in slaves has stopped effectively in the Upper Slave Coast and people started returning to more humane means of sustaining themselves and their families. So did the people of Atorkor. That is why they suspected very little danger when some boats [2 or 3?] docked at the port of Atorkor and they were invited in to drum to entertain the apparent friendly traders. Little did they know that the boats were Brazilian slave boats out to trick them into slavery. The Brazilians, Portuguese and the Spaniards were adamant in their refusal to stop the slave trade, and shifted their activities to the Lower Slave Coast centered around the port of Whyddah.
Many Brazilians, Portuguese and mulattoes who had settled along the coast continued to organize the slave trade. The last slave boat was known to have left the Slave Coast in 1888. But then, no one was expecting a slave boat even before that time at Atorkor! Hundreds of men and women therefore entered the boats to perform the new dance of Buteni to these whitemen. Before anyone realized it, anchors were secretly lifted and the boats started sailing to the open sea. Scores jumped into the ocean in an attempt to escape what was obvious to all: captivity. Those who could not swim drowned and were swept ashore by the powerful waves of the Atlantic. Many unfortunate ones were carried away into captivity never to be heard of again. Both the dead and the captives left behind hundreds of little children who went into a collective shock and long mourning. These little orphans had to be taken care of by relations and the general public in other towns. By 1960, there were old people still alive who were the children of those stolen people. Relations from towns such as Anloga, the traditional capital of the Anlos, continued to send food to them. As the world focus attention on the captives of the Middle Passage, we must not forget Atorkor, the innocent victim of man’s greed and inhumanity.
Atorkor History was contributed (in most parts) by Andy Kwawukume Bergen, Norway