If I have been dreaming of Africa for more than 20 years, I have been dreaming of visiting Gorée Island for at least 15 years.
It all started when I read an article on the House of Slaves in Gorée, one of the oldest houses on the island where the African slaves were imprisoned and sent to America by boat. It is now a museum showing the horrors of the slave trade throughout the Atlantic world.
If Gorée is a wonderful island with a lovely beach and beautiful colored houses, with an ancient fort and a lot of artists and tourists, the House of Slaves experience is completely dramatic and sad. I decided to start the tour of the island from there and it was so emotional.
A part of me was happy of finally being there, another one was ashamed and destroyed about the horrors showed and I started crying on the “infamous door”, the door from which the slaves were put on the boats to travel in cruel conditions to America where they were sold as slaves.
The house is dramatically beautiful and tragic at the same time. It took me a while to start the tour of the island by walk after the visit. Today, when I think of that visit I still feel the same feeling of shame and rage, especially if I wonder what has really changed since then.
I walked during all the afternoon throughout the island, I stopped to talk to a lot of people, to listen to the djembe players, to visit the fort and to stop by the artists communities all around the island. I enjoyed the breathtaking views, I bathed on the beautiful sea, I took a lot of pictures of the colored houses…I really needed all these things to recover from the visit to the House of Slaves.
The boats from Dakar to Gorée and the way back are very frequent and are also a beautiful way to enjoy the Senegalese life: many people living in Dakar work in Gorée and they travel every day. Opposite to what usually happens in Europe they enjoy a good talk with tourists and I personally enjoyed too. It is a way to know each other, in every possible way.