Yesterday we visited Goree Island, a small island 20min off the coast of Dakar. It is only 300 meters wide and 900 meters long. With a population around 1,200 people, its entire economy relies on tourism.
Why do tourists come? Goree was the last stop for most of the slaves headed to the americas. During the slave trade it was controlled by many nations, the Dutch, Portugese, French, and English. In the morning we had a tour of the Isle including a slave house where slaves were held while waiting for the boats to take them across the Island. It was sureal to stand in the same rooms where so many people were packed in as beasts and animals. We also walked up to the ‘door of no return’ where a plank would connect the building to the boat.
Despite the significance of the events on the Isle, by the end of the afternoon, the haggling, bargaining, and annoying merchants soon blotted much of the experience from my mind. After bargaining for 30min in french and wolof, I had a few paintings, a few less CFA and less memories and comprehension of meaning behind the morning’s tours.
I guess its the reality of it. I shouldn’t expect myself to comprehend the millions of slaves that passed through the Island. It is sure to take time and reflection… much longer than a day’s worth.