Ile de Goree, Senegal, October 27, 2007

Trip Start Sep 19, 2007
Trip End Jan 05, 2008

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Flag of Senegal  ,
Saturday, October 27, 2007

Ile de Goree, an island several miles out in the harbor with a French/Dutch colonial town and fort, is a short excursion by frequent tour boats and Dakar's star attraction.  Goree is neat and clean and picturesque in the way that tourist spots are expected to be, more like a small affluent French Caribbean island like Saint Martin or Saint Bart than just about anywhere else in West Africa.  Goree is actually a very colorful place, full of brightly painted colonial buildings now serving the tourist trade as inns, restaurants, stores, and museums. 
The pretty surroundings, though, hide its dark past as a slave trading port, and it now functions as a place of pilgrimage for African-Americans to see a sight of their ancestors' sufferings at Maison des Esclaves, a building with basement dungeons that held slaves and a symbolic "door of no return" facing the sea, through which slaves were taken to ships for the passage to the Americas.  It is unlikely, that many of the pilgrims' ancestors actually passed through the spot however, since Goree was never a major trading center for slaves, unlike the larger forts we would visit later in Ghana. 
From the numerous historical exhibits I learned that the North American colonies that became the United States were actually the destination for only about 5 percent of the slaves exported from Africa and that the large population of their descendents in the Untied States is the result of much higher survival rates due to better conditions in North America than in Brazil and the Caribbean islands most slaves were taken to.
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