Idea #659 – Visiting the island of Gorée in Senegal
The Island of Gorée testifies to an unprecedented human experience in the history of peoples. Indeed, this “memory island” is for the universal conscience the symbol of the slave trade with its procession of suffering, tears and death. This small island of 28 ha located 3.5 km off Dakar crystallizes the painful memories of the Atlantic Treaty. This singular destiny, Gorée owes its geographical position of extreme centrality between North and South, and its excellent strategic position offering a safe shelter for the anchorage of ships, hence its name “Good Rade”.
As a result, since the 15th century, it has been an issue between various European nations that have successively used it as a stopover or slave market. As the first point of completion of the “home-markets” draining slaves from the hinterland, Gorée was at the heart of the rivalries between European nations for the control of the slave trade. Until the abolition of this one in the French colonies, the island was a warehouse constituted of more than a dozen slaveries. Among the tangible elements that testify to the universal value of Gorée include the Castel, rocky plateau covered with fortifications overlooking the island, the Relais de l’Espadon, former residence of the French governor, the battery of the port, the House of Slaves…
The island of Gorée is today a land of pilgrimage for the entire African diaspora, a point of contact between the West and Africa and a space for exchange and dialogue of cultures through confrontation ideals of reconciliation and forgiveness. It echoes a nearby site, James Island, The Gambia, which has similar characteristics, but under British control. The island of Goree, like that of James, is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Where is it ?
Goree island, Dakar, Sénégal