Vice President Kamala Harris visits Ghana's 'Slave Castle' and emphasizes the importance of learning from history.

March 30, 2023 : U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris kicked off her African tour with a visit to Ghana, where she addressed thousands of young Ghanaians on women’s empowerment and toured the Cape Coast Castle, the last stop for Africans sold into the transatlantic slave trade. Her visit is part of a broader effort by the U.S. to counter-balance the growing influence of China and Russia on the continent.

In her speech, Harris promised American partnership with African nations and exhorted them to do more for women. She also emphasized the importance of learning difficult history, in an apparent reference to recent Republican efforts to strike some lessons from U.S. classrooms. Harris noted that by the middle of the century, one in four people in the world would be African, which means that what happens on the continent will impact the entire world.

Harris cited the pioneering of mobile phone payments in Kenya and healthcare deliveries by drone in Rwanda as examples of African innovation, which she said would be key to the continent’s future success. She called for investments in African ingenuity and creativity, which she said would unlock incredible economic growth and opportunities, not only for the people of the 54 countries that make up the continent but also for the American people and people around the world.

Harris underlined the deep gender disparities in Africa, saying that the U.S. would work alongside African partners to close those gaps. She noted that women grow a majority of the food in Africa but are less likely to own the land they farm. Women also face disparities in health outcomes despite being a majority of frontline healthcare workers, she added. Women are entrepreneurs but have limited access to capital and markets. They are peacemakers and bridge builders but continue to be underrepresented at the table where decisions are made.

Later, Harris and her husband toured the Cape Coast Castle, a 17th-century slave fortress. Harris appeared moved during the tour, taking several deep breaths while her husband wiped his eyes. She laid flowers in the female slave dungeon and went through the so-called “Door of no Return”, where slaves were shipped out. Harris said the horror of what had happened at the castle must be remembered and that it cannot be denied. She emphasized that history must be learned, even as Republican-led states in the U.S. enact new laws to limit teaching about the role of racism in the country.