All of us at some point of time must have heard about the slavery that exisisted on the basis of race in the earlier days. It would be quiet wrong to say that it existed in the earlier days only because even now in many parts of the world there are several people who become victims of this kind of ‘ othering’ every now and then. We always choose to go to places where we can have fun, for our holidays. Holidays are not always meant for fun; most of the times it is more than just that. A very important aspect of holidays is to learn something new. The tourist destination that I am going to describe will give all your speculations regarding history a proper shape.
Located on the shores of the ever raging waters of the Atlantic Ocean is the Goree Island. The Goree island now seems to be a serene observer, afflicted with the pains of the yesteryears. It is the forlorn playground of the wanton game of slavery which took place long back. The Goree islands are now a part of the city of Dakar. The islands are covered by the Cape Vert Peninsula.
The history of the Goree islands is quiet a heart- rending one. Goree is arid in extremes and this was the soul reason why it was uninhabited. It was habited only when the Portuguese came and settled over there. The Portuguese were the first to confiscate the land but then the United Netherlands acquired the land. In this possession struggle Portuguese proved to be victorious again and finally it was confiscated by the Dutch again. The Goree islands have been named after the Dutch island of Goree.
The island of Goree as it is, is quiet famous for it’s memorial museum. The museum is called Maison des esclaves (meaning House of Slaves in English). The owner of the house was a colonial native. She belonged to an Afro- French metis family. It was built back towards the end of the eighteenth century. It is now a centre of tourist attraction in Dakar because it is not too far off from here. It stands out to be the soul witness of the atrocities with which the black slaves were treated in those days. Yes! The House of Slaves was the trading centre of the slaves.
All the slaves were brought in bizzare conditions and were kept in even bizzare conditions in this house because it was the abode of the slaves. The approximate number of the slaves has been estimated to be somewhat around a several millions. These slaves were sent to different parts of the world to serve the whites. The slaves were mainly transported to British, French, Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese colonies of the America.
There are three main centres of attraction to witness in the Goree islands. The first as mentioned above is the House Of Slaves. The second one is the Musee de la Femme(Known as woman’s museum in English). The third one is the Maritime Museum. It gives an idea of the history of the Senegal sea faring. Before 1962, The House of Slaves was a mere remnant but then it was renovated. It was reconstructed and opened as a museum in 1962. It mostly displays the works of Boubacar Joseph Ndiaye.
The Goree islands have gained momentum in the aspect of tourism and attract as many as thousands of tourists every year. Many of the great personalities who are idolized across the globe have come to the House Of Slaves to pay a homage to all the slaves who were kept here. These eminent personalities include Pope John Paul(II), Bill Clinton and George Bush. Quiet recently, Barack Obama visited the House Of Slaves. It is reported that he sat quietly for five minutes in the basement cell and reflected upon his visit to the Goree islands and the House Of Slave.
The means to reach the Goree islands are not difficult at all. All that a person has to do is reach Dakar which is well connected to airways. From Dakar, ferries keep bringing tourists to the islands. The frequency of the ferries is also good. For a very short interval, there is a ferry which leaves for Goree islands. It takes merely twenty minutes for the ferries to reach the islands. The ferries are open all throughout the day. After midnight the service is stopped. The ferries are a delight to travel on because it is not everywhere that we get to sit on the so culturally native made ferries.
The Goree islands have also been shortlisted as one of the world heritage sites by the UNESCO. This says it all. The serenity of this place is it’s accessory. Going to this place makes you feel the pain or rather understand, which those slaves had to go through. Most of the tourists who come to visit this site are African- American. They are mostly decendants of the enslaved Africans who come to remember their ancestors because it was their life- long struggle which has fetched them a much secured life.