Tag: Senegal

Gorée Island (World Heritage)

Gorée Island (World Heritage)

The former anchorage of Portuguese explorers such as Vasco da Gama on the small island of Gorée across from Dakar gained notoriety as a base for the slave trade in West Africa. Today Gorée is a museum island and a memorial to slavery. See history of Senegal on behealthybytomorrow.

Gorée Island: facts

Official title: Gorée Island
Cultural monument: former anchorage of Portuguese explorers such as Vasco da Gama and the most important base for the slave trade in West Africa
Continent: Africa
Country: Senegal
Location: Island in front of the capital Dakar
Appointment: 1978
Meaning: a lasting reminder of the history of slavery

Gorée Island: history

1444 Occupation of the “Palm Island” by Portuguese troops
1492 Stopover by Columbus on the crossing to America
1588 after the defeat of the Portuguese-Spanish Armada, transition to the Netherlands
1663 Captured by English troops, lost to the Netherlands a year later
1677 after the conquest by French associations the most important port for the shipping of slaves
1678-1815 multiple changes between English and French rule
1776-78 Construction of the slave house
until 1848 Shipping of an estimated 10 million slaves; thereafter prohibition of slavery

Slave trade at the “Goede Roads”

Pounding through the waves, the ferry approaches the landing stage and anchors like the first Dutch merchant ships in the “Goede Roads”, the anchorage of the former slave island. A lively, fun-loving atmosphere welcomes newcomers. Children jump from the balustrade and swim towards the beach to screams of joy and laughter. A touch of grilled fish and beignets, donuts baked in peanut oil, pushes towards the newcomers. The first glance falls on the right at the former fort, then at the mighty fort, whose cannons have long since ceased to be aimed at the Atlantic. Decades have passed since the Vichy government used such military force to prevent General de Gaulle from landing in Dakar. A second glance discovers the silhouette of the Provencal-looking colonial houses. Even with little imagination, one can imagine the bustle of activity on the landing stage a hundred years ago, when boxes and barrels were constantly being carried ashore, proud “Signares” strolled on the beach and representatives of the trading houses gesticulating to negotiate lucrative deals.

For five centuries, Gorée was an important European trading center for ivory, leather and, last but not least, slaves. Sailing over from the Cape Verde Islands, the Portuguese landed first, followed by countless desperados and adventurers from all over the world. At the beginning of the 16th century the “Goede Roadstead” was sold to the Dutch, only to finally pass into French hands in the 19th century after decades of armed conflict between the French and the English. Because of its mild climate, the respective colonial officials valued the island as a resort, and it is still a popular destination for residents of Dakar and holidaymakers from overseas. There is little time to lose yourself in thoughts of past centuries. Thanks to the exuberant atmosphere on the slowly emptying ferry, you are quickly brought back to the present. Everyone is pushing off the ship. Baskets and bags of the islanders, filled with purchases from Dakar, go from hand to hand. You greet and hug as if you had just finished a long sea voyage. The latest gossip from the mainland is told, laughing and gesticulating. The siren of the returning ferry dominates the moment before the crowd disperses and the visitor only hears the crunch of the sand under his feet. The latest gossip from the mainland is told, laughing and gesticulating. The siren of the returning ferry dominates the moment before the crowd disperses and the visitor only hears the crunch of the sand under his feet. The latest gossip from the mainland is told, laughing and gesticulating. The siren of the returning ferry dominates the moment before the crowd disperses and the visitor only hears the crunch of the sand under his feet.

Behind the landing stage, narrow, cobbled streets lead across the island. Overhanging, red-violet bougainvilleas gently bob in the wind. Through ajar gates you can see green inner courtyards full of life. It is believed that here and there proud “Signares” with their elegant headscarves and brightly colored dresses come across. They belonged to the wealthy, influential islanders who were married to wealthy European merchants according to the »mode du pays«.

From the outside, the “slave house” seems to have no particular charm. However, if you step through the dark gate into the sun-drenched inner courtyard, you are taken by the atmosphere of the place. A staircase curved in the shape of a horseshoe on both sides leads to the upper floor. There they dined like a prince, laughed and bargained for exquisite slaves. The floorboards were roughly timbered, so that the prisoners living in the basement in their dark, narrow dungeons involuntarily had to take part in the goings-on of the slave traders. How many millions of slaves left Gorée through the “door of no return”? If you are here and understand that people have been abducted, the polemical “numbers game” becomes irrelevant. The island breathes history everywhere. Also in the former prison, today’s Musée d’Histoire du Sénégal, illuminates this dark past. But the island also sees itself as “Gorée la Joyeuse”, as “Gorée die Fröhliche”, a warm-hearted “Goede Roadstead” that is beyond time.

Gorée Island (World Heritage)