Centuries stolen from us, time that would’ve made Africa one of the most established continents in the world. Instead, time was used to degrade the authenticity of Africa, while extracting that which wasn’t theirs. It isn’t late for us to revitalize our continent. I’m aware of the obstacles we face but, in time we’ll unite and divert from the colonial ways of doing. For now, I will utilize my upcoming years to unlearn 22 years of misinformation. I am taken back my stolen years, Join me!

Sep 1, 2010

Ile de Goree (Goree Island)

Ile de Goree is a small island about 20mins boat ride from the coast of Dakar. Goree was once a major slave-trading center for the Portuguese, British and Dutch. Many individuals of African decent use Goree as their pilgrimage destination. The Maison des Esclaves (House of Slaves) on the island has become a place of pilgrimage for anyone to reflect upon the horrors of the slave-trade.

It is amazing how the Goree Island differ from Dakar. Arriving on the coast of Goree you realize how noisy and busy the streets of Dakar are. The boot ride and the less noisy streets put you in a mood of relaxation for what to come. There is no need to acquire transportation once on the island, as it is small enough to maneuver on foot. If it is your first time I advise that you get a guide to take you around. There will be lot of guides offering their services. Do not pay more than 5000cfa for a guide. Be prepared to pay visitors’ tax of 100cfa before you enter the island.

One of the main attractions is the Maison des Esclaves (House of Slaves). It has been converted into a museum, once inside you can walk through the dungeons where the slaves were held and the guide will explain exactly how they were sold and shipped. Musee de la Femme (The Women's Museum) focuses on the role of Senegalese women in traditional and modern world. Maritime Museum offers the visitor information about Senegal's seafaring history. There are many museums and other attractions on the Island. I had limited time therefore could not see all. Goree has a lot of restaurant and various tourist stalls. As in many parts of Senegal you can bargain for the many tourist treasures you will want to buy!

I was here before you came
I was here when waltz became superior to makonde ngoma
I was here when black became priceless
I was here when independence became dependence
I was here when brothers became neighboring strangers
I was here when external maximization became internal minimization
I am still here……..
How dare you come with your innocuous western attitude?
Telling me what I already know!
Have you not done enough?

Slavery has forever scar Africa and continues to impact the advancement of Africans today. As I walked through the homes once own by slaves’ masters along the coast of Goree, I tried to understand the lives of the masters that once walked down the halls I walked. Upstairs the masters lived comfortable and below dungeons were built to keep slaves secluded until their departure. Scholars try to justify why, and how slavery became entrenched in various societies, but as I walked through the homes built for one group of people to dominate another, all academic justification for slavery was broken down to these simple words….You are nothing and I am everything, therefore I have the power to do unto you as I please.

Below slaves were kept and their master(s) residence was above

A monument to celebrate the emancipation of slavery
Chains used to restrain slaves
My disappointment with the human race was diminished when I came across two exceptional Senegalese artists. They own a little gallery hidden in the trenches of Goree. The art work they are producing are amazing and their production process is extraordinary. For me these artists are not just making art, they are experimenting with the natural environment in a productive way. The art form is called “Sand Art”. They use soils from different parts of Senegal and Gambia to create different pieces. Below is an example of their work….
It took the artist less than five minutes to create the basic layout above!

Art made out of recycle materials
As I stood on the balcony where masters of my forefathers once stood, below me black stones stared back at me, asking now what? Africa will never be like the west, yet still our leaders do everything to imitate their former oppressors. Is imitation the only way to archive advancement in Africa? If not, what and how do we advance?
Recommend Read (Walter Rodney “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa)
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