The coast line of Ghana is littered with dark reminders of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade from the 15th to 19th centuries. From the Donkor Nsuo (Slave River) at Assin Manso to the Door-of-No-Return at Cape Coast Castle, the architecture of Ghana serves to remind its inhabitants and visitors of those who were taken away to never return. Slavery and human trafficking in Africa pre-dated European exploration. The typical life of a slave in West Africa was markedly different from his/her counterpart who was unfortunate enough to be sold or captured into slavery across the ocean. The explorer Mungo Park observed in modern day Nigeria:
West African slavery from the 12th to 19th century is documented to have more resembled an extreme caste system, albeit with a class committing the abhorrent deed of owning other humans. On the other hand, there were examples of extremely sadistic behavior exhibit toward slaves. Kings of Dahomey routinely slaughtered slaves in hundreds or thousands in sacrificial rituals, and slaves as human sacrifices were also known in Cameroon. In 1494 Portuguese traders began forming relationships with Africans along the continent's western coast. This marked the early stages of what became the nearly four centuries long Trans-Atlantic slave trade. From the 15th to 17th centuries, the slave trade overshadowed all other commercial institutions in West Africa. It enriched many powerful men on all three sides of the trading triangle.
Many African groups were themselves complicit in the slave trade. Initially, most slaves who were sold to Europeans were prisoners of war. As time progressed, groups began actively raiding villages to sell members of rival groups into slavery. It is estimated that of the over 12.5 million people who embarked across the Atlantic to be slaves, 10% came from the land that was to become the Gold Coast colony (modern-day Ghana).
In 1999 Odeefuo Boa Amponsem III, the King of Denkyira, was elected President of the National House of Chiefs. During his term heading the national chiefs, Amponsem proposed many radical reforms including moving the seat of the chiefs to Kumasi for cultural reasons. He also officially apologized to all descendants of victims of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade for the role that African chiefs played. Of the 12.5 million who fell victim to the trade, only 10.7 million survived the journey across the ocean. An unreported number died of unnatural causes when arriving to the sugar, cotton, and copper mines and plantations in the New World. The Kingdom of Denkyira itself was enriched by the slave trade and grew to its greatest strength in the 17th century through a combination of the gold and human trade. In 2006 Ghana's Parliament formally apologized as a nation to the descendants of slaves for the role those who were enriched by the structure played.
To date the United States, European Union, nor Brazil--the greatest benefactors of the slave trade--have officially apologized to descendants of slaves for the trade and its ongoing effects.