A sculpture’s trans-Atlantic passage from Ghana to Alabama
When the e-mail came from Alabama, Ghanaian sculptor Kwame Akoto-Bamfo was furiously preparing for an ambitious installation at Cape Coast Castle. The so-called “slave castle” on the Ghanaian coastline was where enslaved Africans were held captive in underground dungeons in the weeks before their trans-Atlantic migration to the New World, and a life of servitude — and worse.
It’s now a living monument and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Akoto-Bamfo was in the midst of sculpting 1,300 heads, cast in concrete, representing the multitude of Africans who were imprisoned there.
Now, out of the blue came a random e-mail from a place in Montgomery, Ala., called the Equal Justice Initiative. It was puzzling. Not only had he never been to the United States, but he’d barely ever been outside of Ghana. “Except Togo,” he said in an interview. “Maybe Burkino.”
The e-mail came from the office of Bryan Stevenson, the prominent civil rights attorney and the organization’s founder.