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A Letter to Views

These are letters to views in Accra and Cape Coast in Ghana, West Africa. I wrote letters to the views in these photos using the reflections and notes in my journals from my study abroad experience. The letters feel like an ode to the view in combination with questions and mixed emotions. They remind me to ask questions about what I see, hear, live, and experience.

Dear Atlantic Ocean View in Accra,

Swimming and seeing your beauty today was different than any beach trip before. I’ve never been to the Atlantic Ocean, so it was a new experience in this surface-level way. Straight ahead, we see you. The waves with trash sprinkled around, warm sand with footprints, and the horizon that seems never to end. To the left, we see the Osu Castle, that is watching over you. 

You have a history in a way that other bodies of water do not. Who or what lies at the bottom between here in Accra, and the ship’s European destination? When we step into your water here, what histories are washing over our feet, and when the water returns and our feet are a little deeper in the sand, what are you telling us?

The ocean and waves usually relax and calm me, but when I started thinking about what histories you have in this water, on this shore, and this coast, I didn’t know what to process.

Comedians are always making everyone else laugh but are usually hiding their darkness from the outside. You, the Atlantic Ocean, are providing beauty and destination, but hold onto some of humanity’s harshest/dangerous/horrific periods. 

I think about all that you possess, how the currents carry the histories and provide new ones as time goes on.



Hello View from Governor’s Window,

Your view at first glance is beautiful and relaxing. I look out this window, the contrast of white building to the turquoise water and the tan stones in this view draws me in. The tan stones have a few small holes that are covered by small hatches. In the books I read before this trip, they said when this castle was in operation, you could walk over them and hear people groaning for help. During the tour, I saw a hatch like that in this courtyard. 

During the tour, they said the enslaved women would come to this courtyard (From their dungeon on the left of the courtyard and this picture) and line up. The governor, from this window, would pick one out for that night. I still feel uncomfortable when I look at this photo because I have two different scenes in my mind, the one I see in the present day and the one the tour and books describe. 

Looking through this window, the beauty and history of your view and castle don’t fight each other. Somehow this view and castle work together, but it is hard to appreciate or see the beauty when we know the atrocities that occurred. What do I do with these feelings of discomfort/pain/anger/confusion when I get home? How can I tell people about this photo? Do they even want to know? If not, why? 

Coming back to the hotel after this day was exhausting. I had a feeling of when I come home to Seattle that I need to be proactive and spur to action for social justice. This photo sparks those feelings inside me every time I look at it, even eight months later. 

Thank you for sharing your view and history with me. 


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