Thursday, January 22, 2009

Gorée Island, Senegal, Africa

Goree: The Slave Island

Goree Island is on the great western bulge of Africa - the nearest point on the continent to the Americas.

The Senegalese people called it Ber. The Portuguese renamed it Ila de Palma.

The name was changed to Good Reed by the Dutch and the French called the island Goree - meaning "good harbour".

But the name did not match with what went on in this tiny island between the 16th and 19th centuries when wooden ships sailed from here with human beings chained in their holds across the Atlantic.

On the island, there is a small fort known as Slave House. This was in effect one of the slave warehouses through which Africans passed on their way to the Americas.

Millions have passed through the island and other similar trading posts to work in the plantations of the New World, including America.

Slave Depot

The shipping of slaves from Goree lasted from 1536 when the Portuguese launched the slave trade to the time the French halted it 312 years later.

The Portuguese, Dutch, French and British all fought and killed each other over the trade from there

The island is just 3 km off the Senegalese coast, and its tiny size made it easy for merchants to control their captives.

The surrounding waters are so deep that any attempt at escaping would mean sure drowning.

With a five kg metal ball permanently attached to their feet or necks, a captured African would know what jumping into the deep sea would bring.

Goree Island
16-19 Century: Slaves shipped from Goree

1780: Slave House built

1978: World Heritage Site

Visitors: Pope, Mandela, Clinton


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