Goree Island, Dakar

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The Island of Gorée was one of the last stops for enslaved Africans headed to the Americas. The shipping of enslaved Africans from Gorée lasted from the 15th century when the Portuguese launched the slave trade to the time the French halted it more than 300 years later. What occurred on the island testifies to an unprecedented human experience in the history of humanity.
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Today, Gorée serves a dual purpose; a grim tourist attraction allowing visitors worldwide to witness the painful memories of the Atlantic slave trade and home for natives who vibrantly take pride in residing on the island lying just 3.5 km off the coast of Dakar.
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Gorée was ruled in succession by the Portuguese, Dutch, French, and British who fought over trade from the island. The island’s destiny can be attributed to its prime geographical position between the North and South; offering strategic position and safe haven for anchoring ships. The result of differences in ownership can be found in the various colors of houses on the island—which have been required to be preserved for historical authenticity.
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The only way to get to Gorée is by ferry with cost varying on nationality and age—average cost is around 5000 CFA or about $9 USD. With frequent ferry departures and arrivals (around every 30-45 mins, starting at about 6am to 11pm on weekdays) from the Port of Dakar, visitors can take their time to explore the island. Walking through the House of Slaves (museum and memorial), interacting with locals, dining at a cafe or two, and taking in the immaculate views of the northern Atlantic.
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As a descendant of enslaved Africans, the hardest part of Gorée was the “Door of No Return.” This door led my ancestors to unimaginable horrors; leaving their home, Africa, behind forever.
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Have you been or plan to visit Gorée? What was your experience?

Devin Owens

Instagram: @Dayswithdev

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