What is a symbol? It can be a word, a sound, an image or a gesture. A shorthand for an idea or belief. It can be an object or it can be a person. Indeed, over the past week it is a term that has been used extensively in tribute to the Nelson Mandela; a symbol of unity and reconciliation, of human rights and equality, hope and freedom.
The picture I’ve chosen for this theme is an object which represents ideas, beliefs and actions very different to those embodied by Mandela. It is a doorway, one which represents of one of the darkest episodes of our history, of cruelty, slavery, and inhumanity. This is the “gate of no return” in Cape Coast castle, Ghana, through which slaves were led, shackled together, and loaded like cargo onto ships bound for the New World.
But however unpleasant the connotations this symbol draws, it is not one that should be sidelined or overlooked. It is a symbol to remind us of the horrors of the past, for us to learn from, to prevent us from such cruelties in the future.
When turning back away from the door, another symbol catches your eye. Akwaaba, welcome. Because now the door opens both ways.
Find the weekly travel theme from Where’s my Backpack here.