Goree Island, Senegal
Not always tourism is about amusement, entertainment or adventurous experiences. Some historic places that have remained well enough can tell us plenty of stories from the past and, indeed, not all of them are joyful. The island of Gorée in Senegal can be visited for several reasons yet the main one for tourists to arrive there is its strong connection and importance in the slave-trade, which occurred there from the 15th to 19th century.
The painful past of the island has been a major reason for thousands of people of African Diaspora to see the site where perhaps their forefathers were jailed and forced to wait for their irrevocable destiny to be decided for them and later to be transported to the west. The architecture on the island has been preserved for the purposes of being sort of a memorial in honor of those who suffered and as well to be as a reminder that nothing similar should ever happen again.
Gorée Island History
It is worth pointing out that Gorée was, in fact, one of the first places in the continent of Africa where the Europeans settled. The first known data of colonists arriving there comes from the year 1444 when the Portuguese arrived on Gorée. Later on it was conquered by Dutch, then again Portuguese gained the area and then again Dutch, yet in 1664 the Brits managed to invade the land. Later from 1667 to 1960 it was the French who ruled the island and they were the ones to start the intensive trade of the natives of Africa from the island. The slave trade stopped only at the end of 18th century. In 1978 Gorée island was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The House Of Slaves
The most notable of all the sites of island undoubtedly is The House of Slaves. Built in 1776 it is the oldest remaining building on Gorée but it is not only the architectural value that endows the site with a high importance. The cells have remained as they were back then – small, just 60 m by 2.60 m, dirty, without any amenities and barely any light, yet they were meant for around 20 people to fit in. You will also be able to see the famous stairs of the house and the corridor through which the slaves were taken to be shipped to the West.
When walking through the rooms and cells, it is difficult to remain untouched or not to value the freedom we have but the people being kept there did not. It is the emotional aspect that comes along with the experience of visiting Gorée Island and The House of Slaves particularly. Thousands of men, women and even children lost their lives and freedom and similarly as in for example Auschwitz camp in Poland, it is important to be aware of the history and thus visiting the site might shake a little bit of your everyday life yet it will make you appreciate it a little bit more too.