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Obama visits former slave post

July 12, 2009|Christi Parsons

ACCRA, GHANA — The castle stands on the shores of the western coast of Africa, a forbidding compound with dark dungeons where captives lived in sweltering heat with only tiny vents to let in fresh air before they were shipped off to slavery in the New World.

Near the Cape Coast Castle stands a small chapel where slave traders attended services steps away from the misery.

As President Obama visited the fortress and slave outpost Saturday, he said the juxtaposition reminded him of the former concentration camp he toured in Germany last month.

"It is reminiscent of the trip I took to Buchenwald," he said, "because it reminds us of the capacity of human beings to commit great evil.

"Sometimes we can tolerate great evil," he said, "even as we think we're doing good."

He called it the first step on the journey that is the African American experience.

"As painful as it is," he said, "it helps to teach all of us that we have to do what we can to fight against the kinds of evils that sadly still exist in our world, not just on this continent but in every corner of the globe."

In contrast with a more tempered reception in Russia, people gathered everywhere Obama went in Ghana, and thousands strained to catch a glimpse of the first family at the Cape Coast Castle.

As the president's motorcade made its way through Accra, the capital, people lined the roads and stood on balconies, some waving American or Ghanaian flags, some wearing Obama T-shirts or kente cloth with images of Obama woven into it.

One woman held a sign reading, "Only Black American Managing America."

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cparsons@latimes.com

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