Monday, December 03, 2012
Yesterday I went to an event involving the History Department, the Institute of African Studies, and the Ghana Historical Society supposedly to celebrate emancipation. The historians in the History Department and the Institute of African Studies do not have a lot of contact with each other so every time I see someone from African Studies it is like a reunion. Most of the day was spent eating and engaging in informal conversation. But, there was short formal panel. Surprisingly there was not much said on the history of slavery. There was some mention of Danish slave plantations in the Gold Coast established after the British banned the export of slaves and the role of indigenous providers of slaves to the Europeans such as the Asante, but not much else historically. Instead there was a considerably detailed discussion of slavery today in Ghana, particularly in the fishing industry. I had heard about the practice, but did not know much about the details. It turns out that fishermen buy boys from poor families with the promise of apprenticing them and then use them to untangle nets underwater and other dangerous activities. The boys themselves receive no monetary compensation and are often physically abused. The practice is illegal under Ghanaian law, but evidently still flourishes.