National Geographic : 1951 Aug
204 Lizahbet', Recovering from Mike Fright, Confidently Sings for the Tape Recorder First sight of the microphone unnerved the singer, a resident of Bobo Dioulasso, Upper Volta. She faltered and giggled until the author's wife led her in a few dance steps. Composed, Lizahbet' demanded an American cigarette, and swaggered about in her rayon lingerie (page 281). Tinkling balaphons, the African gourd xylophones (left), accompanied her. Heard in the distance, they sounded like off-key mechanical pianos. At close range, their music seemed melodic, intense, and compelling. The barefoot policeman spoke up later, to thank me for the ride. "You be American?" he asked. "Yes," I answered. "Oh," he said, "Americans be the finest Europeans we know." From Takoradi the road to Elmina Castle and Accra parallels the shore line as far as Saltpond, where it goes off north and east to avoid the coastal marshes. Potholes left by huge GI trailer trucks dot the roadway, which imposes its own speed limit. But it was a fair road, a paved road, with a quarter-inch of tar over the red laterite. Weeks later, forcing our way across the bush roads and trails of the Ashanti country and the Ivory Coast, we looked back in fond memory to the "express" highway along the sea. Relic of Slave-trade Days More important, this road led us back through history to the era when African slaves were the major export of the Gold Coast. Across this country prisoners by the thousands were herded by their captors toward the slave pens of Sekondi, Axim, Cape Coast, Christiansborg, and, by no means least, Elmina. Here, in crowded dungeons, they waited for the auction block and the white traders from Europe and America.