Several hundred years ago, the island was place of detention, trading millions of slaves around the world.
Gorée is a small island that is located about 2 km offshore of Dakar and belongs to Senegal. This is one of the first settlements of Europeans in West Africa and becomes a place of detention of slaves for a long time.
The area of the island is not large, only about 182,000 m2. However, this is an ideal area for the whites to easily “manage” the amount of slaves that they were detained. In addition, the water around the island is quite deep that makes slaves hard to think of crossing the sea to escape.
The island is located between the vast waterways.
Portuguese sailors were the first settlers on the island. They arrived in 1444. Then, the Dutchman won the right of use the island in 1588. Next two centuries, Gorée was under the control of the Dutch, English and French. At 1817, the French owned island until Senegalese became independence in 1960.
From 1536 to 1848, this Island was the most active place in the slave trade in the Atlantic. This trade is done in the House of Slaves (house of slaves). The Dutch built the house in 1776 – one of many slave-keeping houses this time and was the last surviving so far. At one point, the house contained up to 28 slaves.
In a room with a small area usually detained 15-20 slaves. Women and children were detained in the different room from men. The young girls were often detained separately to sell or become “a amusing thing” for the wealthy merchants. Most slaves were chained in position with his back against the wall, kneeling or sitting, neck, and hands chained. Each day, the slaves were only eaten one meal and lived in dirty sanitary conditions.
Today, life on the island was very peaceful.
Slaves often locked in here about 3 months before they were concentrated in backyard, buyers would stand on the balcony looking down and pay the price.
According to word of mouth from people around the area, Gorée had detained millions of slaves to bring to America. However, today, historians say that the island only contains about 26,000 African slaves to bring to the Americas.
Some historians after researching time say that this is not the slave trade place. Gorée is simply a transit point from Africa to the Americas only. They also disagree on the number of slaves transported through here. The historian said that “millions” of slaves are too big for a small area island.
However, today tourists who come to the island do not very concern about quantity of thousand or million people. They simply want to visit the House of Slaves – the house became famous museum in 1962.
Slave’s statue is erected in the House of Slaves.
Today, about 1,300 people inhabit the island. Unlike the old looks fierce, Gorée now has a quiet and peaceful life. There are not too many cars, no modern buildings on the island. The special thing that makes Gorée become popular is the number of crime here is almost equal to zero and tourists come here behaving like pilgrims, visiting a sacred place rather than travelling.
In 1978, UNESCO recognized Gorée as a world heritage site. It attracts 200,000 visitors each year. Some famous visitors have been here such as the PaulII John Pope, George Bush, Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela.
Way to the islands:
From the United States, travelers can book air ticket to Dakar. If you depart from New York, you can buy tickets from South African Airways. If flying from Atlanta, you can buy tickets from Delta.
From Dakar, visitors come to the island by ferry. Ferries depart continuously from 6 am until 23 pm at night. It only takes 20 minutes to reach the island.
Statues of slaves on the island.
On the wall of the museum has painted scenes of slaves being trampled in the old days.
Today, the island has become one of the most peaceful place to live.
Overview island at the top.