Pikworo Slave Camp

Given the impact of slavery on northern Ghana, the Pikworo Slave Camp should be included in heritage tourism in Ghana for people of African descent. The Pikworo Slave Camp is located in the Nania community of Ghana with local Nania residents providing informative guided tours of the site. This page is particularly dedicated to all diaspora relatives who descend from ancestors who were taken into enslavement.

The entrance sign at the Pikworo Slave Camp
The entrance sign at the Pikworo Slave Camp

The Reception Area

Upon entering the site of the Pikworo Slave Camp, visitors approach a traditional building made by community members. The purpose of this building is to provide a reception area for visitors. A tour guide enters the space if he is not already there) to provide visitors with a talk about the history of the area and to allow visitors to ask questions before the tour of the slave camp. Visitors unable to take the tour can rest here until the end of the tour.

Pikworo Slave Camp reception area
The Reception Area

path leading into the Pikworo Slave Camp
Path Inside the Pikworo Slave Camp

Visitors are then led to the entrance path, which is connected to pathways running throughout the site.

Pikworo Holding Place
Pikworo Slave Camp Holding Place

Holding Place of People Who Were Captured

Many people who were captured by raiders were brought to the camp. There were no building structures built for the captives. Enslaved people were chained to the trees until they ready to be transported to the Salaga slave market or the slave castle dungeons on the coast.

Drinking Place of Captives

Within the site is a natural spring water source used for the food and drinks of the captives. The water level depends on the rainfall. No one, including a person who was enslaved, was allowed to bathe in the water or use the water for any other purpose than consumption. The enslaved people were not given provisions to bathe the entire time they were at the slave camp.

Pikworo Slave Camp grinding stone
Pikworo Slave Camp Grinding Stone

The Grinding Stone

Grains served as the basic food source for the captives. The preparation of food began with grinding grains on a rock. The ground meal was placed in a clay pot and boiled. The cooked meal was then placed in shallows holes carved in the rocky area for the captured people to eat.

 Eating Place of Those Who Were Captured

Small shallow holes were carved on flat rock that served as “bowls” for the captives. Using these shallow holes, captives had one meal per day. Three to five people would eat together from the same hole.

Drumming Rock

Pikworo Slave Camp drumming rock

Pikworo Slave Camp drumming rock

All captives were assembled around this rock to exhibit their cultural music and dance.

According to local history, after evening meals, all captives were assembled around this drumming rock to exhibit their cultural music and dance. Musicians among the tribes were called to pacify captives gathered there. The rock produces different sounds on each part of it when hit. Here, musicians from the Nania neighborhood demonstrate a song played on the drumming rock as was done when captives were held there.

In these videos, Nyaaba Regina, a woman from a nearby community, is showing the traditional dance.

Meeting Place

Pikworo Slave Camp Meeting Place of the Slaves
Pikworo Slave Camp – Meeting Place of the Slaves

The Meeting Place is where raiders led the people who were selected for the Salaga Slave Market or other locales of enslavement. Those who were selected for transport here were given a last meal before chains were placed around their necks and were forced to walk to the next location to be sold.

Watch Tower of the Slave Raiders

Pickworo Slave Camp - Watch Tower
Leading up to the Watch Tower
Pikworo Slave Camp - watch tower of slave raiders
Watch Tower

 A security man positioned on top of the rock tower has a view of the whole area. They would watch for intruders trying to break into to the camp or captives trying to escape. The security man could then call for other guards to address the situation.

Pikworo Slave Camp - punishment rock

Punishment Rock

This is an enforcement rock where people who disobeyed or disrespected the slave raiders or guards were punished. A person was made to sit on the rock naked with their hands and feet chained around the base of the rock. They were made to sit in the sun from the sun rising to the sun setting. Some people were blinded or died as a result of sitting in the heat.

Pikworo Slave Camp - punishment rock

Cemetery of the Slaves

Pikworo Slave Camp - cemetery
Pikworo Slave Camp – Cemetery for Dead Slaves

There is an area within the Pikworo Slave Camp that was reserved as a cemetery for captives who died there. Each grave is a mass burial site. After the burial, a stone was placed on the grave surrounded by several smaller stones indicating the number of people buried there.

Pikworo Slave Camp - cemetary
Markers for Mass Graves

Leaving the Pikworo Slave Camp
Leaving Pikworo Slave Camp

Additional Details

This video is a recording of a tour of the Pikworo Slave Camp.

When planning a trip to tour the Pikworo Slave Camp, there are a few points to keep in mind.

Fees

This site is recognized by the Ghana Travel Authority as a heritage site. It is located in the boundaries of the Nania community in Paga, Ghana. Residents of Nania serve as tour guides of the site to explain the history associated with the artifacts. Please, be prepared to pay a fee to the tour guide for each person in your group on the tour. This fee is distributed within the Nania community and is greatly appreciated. Also, please be prepared to tip the musicians at the drumming rock.

Travel Plans

Paga is located in northern Ghana on the border between Ghana and Burkina Faso. The Pikworo Slave Camp is accessible, but it does take some planning to travel there from southern Ghana. This is especially true for those not familiar with traveling around Ghana on their own. If you are planning on a short trip to Ghana (e.g., less than three weeks), we highly recommend that you make some small arrangements for traveling from the southern part of Ghana to the Pikworo Slave Camp before arriving in Ghana. Site coordinator Kugoriamo Gabriel is more than happy to assist you with travel arrangements. (See below for contact information.)

Genetic Genealogy and Diaspora Relatives

Several residents of the local community Nania have taken a genetic genealogy test to participate in the Northern Ghana Family Reunification project. Some have been in contact with their diaspora relatives. They generally regard people of African descent as family members returning home, but this destination carries new meaning being that they have identified descendants of those who were taken away from this specific community. Explore the project pages of The African Kinship Reunion and feel free to ask them about their participation in this project.

Contact Information

Kugoriamo Gabriel
Site Coordinator, Pikworo Slave Camp
kugoriamogabriel@yahoo.com
+233 248277099 (WhatsApp)

Additional Resources

Kassena Family Life and History These pages provide an overview of the history of the Nania community families, Nania’s association with slavery, and contemporary like in Paga.
Routes of Remembrance: Refashioning the Slave Trade in Ghana by Bayo Holsey. I can’t emphasize enough how helpful it was to read this book prior to visiting.