"Goree Island - Slave Island" Top 5 Page for this destination Ile de Goree by MikeAtSea

Ile de Goree Travel Guide: 36 reviews and 103 photos

Goree Island is less than four kilometres away from Dakar. It is located in the middle of the natural harbour formed by the south coast of the Cap- Vert Peninsula. It thus represents a safe anchorage. This explains why the island was, since the 15th century and for centuries, a high stake for different European countries which successively used it as stops and slave markets.
In Dutch, the island is called “Goede Reede”. In Wolof, it becomes “Beer”. Now, the island is commonly known as Goree. By the end of the 18th century, Goree was a prosperous crossroad where tradesmen, soldiers as well as officials lived in sumptuous scenery. Yet, it was also then a gateway to hell for thousands of African slaves.
At first sight, the island is only peace and beauty with its imposing forts and public buildings; with its pink houses, in harmony with the blue of the sea and the green of the inner gardens. Yet, many of the houses played an important role in slave trade. Indeed, during centuries, young male and female slaves were packed up for weeks in the houses’ dark and dank basements, waiting for the ships to leave. There were even torture chambers for the slaves who rebelled.
Before embarking, the slaves were labelled with their masters’ name. On the ships, they were crammed into holds where a lot would die before reaching land. In America and the West Indies, the slaves were employed in plantations and workshops.Yet, America, first associated to tragedy, would eventually be synonymous of freedom for the slaves. Slave trade was officially abolished at the 1815 Vienna Congress, as a consequence of the Haitian Revolution of 1803. The event changed the destiny of the Goree Island. Indeed, as early as 1822, educative institutions were set up in Goree.

The island eventually became an important administrative and school centre. In this respect, it shelters the William- Ponty School (also called the “Ecole normale fédérale de l’Afrique Occidentale”) which formed many African executives, some of whom took part in the decolonization of black Africa in the 1960’s. Afterwards, Goree Island knew a long period of decline.
Today, new educative institutions have opened in Goree. They form future national executives. The University of the Mutants is also located on the island. There, students analyse the most interesting aspects of the world’s different cultures so as to develop brotherhood and universal cooperation.
For centuries, Goree Island was, for both Africa and Black America, synonymous of pain and grief. Today, the island seems to be symbol of hope: more and more people meet there as for a pilgrimage. They are the descendants of former slaves, looking for their roots and also people that perceive, in the island history, the reasons of a new strengthened international fraternity.

  • Last visit to Ile de Goree: Jun 2007
  • Intro Written Jun 14, 2007
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Reviews (7)

Comments (2)

  • SLLiew's Profile Photo
    Apr 23, 2008 at 7:38 AM

    Great page. A timely reminder of the tragic history of slavery in Africa.

  • roamer61's Profile Photo
    Jan 4, 2008 at 1:05 PM

    Just saw a TV documentary on Goree. Its all very interesting and at the same time, tragic. Good pages.


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