A glimpse of Gorée Island

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You never truly miss a place until you leave. Travelling back to Senegal for the first time since 3 years ago was overwhelming. You know the butterflies you get in your stomach when you are excited, anxious worried etc… Those butterflies were all over my stomach…

I remember looking through the plane and staring at the dark sky with bright stars like a child. Wondering what lies beyond all that…. I was lost in my thoughts and imagination, when suddenly a loud voice startled me…. the captain was informing us to prepare for landing

We landed to the newly inaugurated Blaise Diagne International Airport.

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On arriving, we rush to the passport control before proceeding to luggage checkout. After 8hour flight, the last place you want to be is an airport. We hurriedly handed over our passports to the control agent and he quickly ask, “where are you staying?” Ooops!!! I had no idea, we ask him for a minute to check our phones and he bluntly replies in French “Je n’ai pas un moment”… I hold my laughter as we give him the address of our stay.  Minutes later, we are done and head out in a rush like thunder….

 

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African Renaissance Monument in Dakar stands at approximately 49m high. The tallest monument in Africa inaugurated in 2010. The African Renaissance is a concept of Africa overcoming the current challenges confronting the continent and achieving a natural, scientific and economic renewal. The lady hand in the picture shows the past while the child’s hand points to the future which is prosperity and economic independence

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I love Senegal, it is a country where Muslims and Christians live peacefully like brothers and sisters. It is a true definition of love, kindness, humanity and civilisation.

The Gorée Trip

Designated as national heritage in 1975 and world heritage in1978. The island holds the painful memory of Atlantic slave trade deeply rooted in tears, suffering, shame and death.

The island lie 3.5km off the coast from Dakar and is approximately 28 hectares in size.

 

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Gorée island was occupied by French since 1677, briefly occupied by British between 1758 to 1763 during seven years war.  and later by French until 1960. The presence of war can be felt as evidently shown from the weapons left behind. A closer look at the top of the building below shows the remains of the weapons

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I jumped out of the ferry and a feeling of ….I have been here immediately settles. The last time I was here, I don’t remember what it felt like. This time round , it feels different. Back then, I was excited to visit an island, a new place and I didn’t pay much attention to the history of this place.

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But now, I know better, this place has immensely affected the lives and stripped the dignity of Africans across the world. The horror stories, torture, death and loss of humanity happened here. Growing up in Kenya, I never experienced nor thought about how slavery has affected Africans around the globe. In that moment, I was reminded of that….

We encountered this picture on our way to Maison des Esclaves on Gorée Island

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We arrive at the Maison des Esclaves, an elegant clay-red two-story structure and the evil is deceptively masked by twin balustrades and airy masters’ quarters that look onto a pastel sea.

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Written notes from visitors hangs on the board like Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela and the likes.  I read slowly and carefully before preceding to the slaves cells. We learn early slavery began with Arabs in Eastern Africa 

The picture depicts instruments used to shackle africans on floor before being handpicked by future masters. For an African to be handpicked, you had to weigh atleast 63kg

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Approximately 6million+ Africans died during the Atlantic slave trade.

The experience, made me cry but proud at the same time. I am proud because of their survival instinct, bravery for those who stayed and those who tried to escape. In the few moments I am there, their experiences reminded me of what humanity really means and rising above greed and hatred.

One of the cell where africans were kept. This was specifically designed for Men

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We learn that Africans from Nigeria and Benin were considered favourable due to their strength.

The door of no return

Once they were paraded and selected by their future masters, the journey to America began. This door was called  “door of no return” as was the final exit for many africans

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Through the door

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An island with artistic talent

This paint was done in few minutes…

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This guy is really talented

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And to finish off, some of the pictures I took

So..now you know how this small yet historically rich Gorée Island is. When you get a chance, take it and explore this beautiful little place.

It is an experience and powerful moment that will stay with you…

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Remember travelling is about learning… go out there and keep learning. Some things can never be taught in school.. can only be known through feeling and seeing

Did you know? 

Gorée had the first university in West Africa, Ecole Normal, build by William Ponty, a French governor in West Africa from 1913-1937.

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Ohhh!! and remember to take a picture here and hashtag #IloveGoree on instagram, snapchat, facebook etc

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As always, thanks for your support. Read, like, share 🙂


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