CAPE COAST, Ghana (AFP) — US President Barack Obama and his family on Saturday made a "moving" visit to a former slave trading fort in Ghana during a landmark visit to the west African country.
The Obamas went on a guided tour of Cape Coast Castle, formerly one of the continent's main outposts from where countless slaves were shipped trans-Atlantic to the Americas.
Obama, the son of an African immigrant, and his wife Michelle, a descendant of African slaves, were accompanied on the tour by their daughters Malia and Sasha.
"Obviously it's a moving experience, a moving moment," he said.
He said a walk through the dungeons where slaves were held "reminds us (that) sometimes we can tolerate and stand by great evil even as we think that we think that we are doing good.
"I think that it was particularly important for Malia and Sasha, who are growing up in such a blessed way, to be reminded that history can take very cruel turns, and hopefully one of the things that was imparted to them during this trip is the sense of obligation to fight oppression and cruelty," he said.
"As African-Americans, there is a special sense that on one hand this place was a place of profound sadness, on the other hand it is where the journey of much of African-American experience began," he said.
The former slave trading fort some 160 kilometres (100 miles) west of the capital Accra was built in the 17th century, originally as a timber and gold trading post, before it turned to the then thriving slave trade.
Obama added that he was happy to be able to celebrate with the people of Ghana "the extraordinary progress that we have made... to abolish slavery and ultimately win civil rights for all people, I think is a source of hope.
"It reminds us that as bad as history can be, it's also possible to overcome it."
Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, Cape Castle's monuments are among some of the oldest European-built structures outside Europe.
It was one of the biggest slave-trade posts along Ghana's 300 kilometre (180 mile) coastline, which is dotted with 60 forts, most of them now in ruin.
The fort which changed hands five times during the 17th century late became a British administrative centre for what was then known as the Gold Coast, now Ghana.
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