Home Institution

University of Michigan

Publication Date

Spring 2013

Program Name

Ghana: Social Transformation and Cultural Expression



i. Gain an understanding of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade from the Ghanaian perspective

ii. Understand the ways in which the history of slavery and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade are a part of Ghanaians identities today

iii. Acquire knowledge regarding Ghanaians understandings of the African Diaspora

iv. Explore Ghanaians views on the history of slavery as compared to African Americans perspectives on slavery

4. Methodology: For this research I used a versatile approach. I observed and taught two Social Studies classes at a school in Cape Coast, both of which were of relevance to my topic. I also interviewed, both formally and informally, various teachers, students, and professionals. For my formal interviews, I came prepared with a set of questions but would allow for the conversation to flow and change directions if needed. For my informal interviews, I spoke more casually with Ghanaians about my topic. For the informal interviews no questions were prepared. I also designed and administered a survey, asking Junior High School Form One students about their knowledge surrounding the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and the African Diaspora. Finally, I read two Junior High School Social Studies textbooks, which gave me insight into the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade curriculum.

5. Findings: The data I obtained from my student surveys demonstrated a large gap in knowledge regarding the history of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. This finding was not surprising when the history of slavery was found to be missing in the Junior High School Social Studies textbooks. Conversely, during my interviews I found that teachers and professionals alike believed that the history of Ghana, and specifically the history of slavery in Ghana, was especially important for children to be learning in school. Although they believed that this history was important because the past always informs the future, many of these professionals did not view slavery as a crucially affecting their lives today. The lack of integration of such a long and powerful history into the lives of Ghanaians today was very different information than what I found regarding this same history of slavery for African Americans’ identities. The history of slavery for African Americans is so important that it has pushed many African Americans back to “the motherland” to reclaim their roots and find their identities.

6. Conclusion: The large differences between the importance of the history of slavery for Ghanaians and African Americans alike lie in the different ideologies in both countries that still exist today is very apparent and real. However, the power in uniting the African Diaspora and Ghanaians through the realization of a common history has extreme potential for a tenacious and bright future.


Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Education | Race and Ethnicity | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Social and Cultural Anthropology


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