Why There Is More to Gold Than Meets the Eye – by Haleema Shah (Smithsonian Magazine – April 10, 2019)


The Smithsonian’s Gus Casely-Hayford says the precious metal was both a foundation for massive West African empires and a cultural touchstone

Gus Casely-Hayford grew up hearing stories about gold—the lustrous metal was part of family lore and legacy. Like a number of middle-class Sierra Leoneans, his maternal grandfather found success trading gold and traveled for days, sometimes weeks for work. After a trip, his grandfather would come home, hug his family and pull something out of his pocket for his daughter.

“He would bring from his pocket a little satchel full of gold nuggets and gold dust in tiny bags. And he would give my mother a small nugget that she could have made into a piece of jewelry as a remembrance of that particular journey,” he says.

For Casely-Hayford, gold is nothing short of a time capsule. The material is deeply entwined with his Creole grandfather’s story, who immigrated to Sierra Leone from Barbados.

“My grandfather did become fairly wealthy from trading gold and he built a house in the very center of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. As he built it, within the foundation stone, it was said that he buried a pot of gold,” he says. “Even if it’s a family myth, what I think it represents is the idea that this was a family that was founded around this idea of the power and strength of this material, and how it had given them a foothold in this country.”

For the rest of this article: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/why-there-more-gold-meets-eye-180971937/