Goree Island Senegal – where history meets art

A big sandstorm coming from the Sahara haunted Dakar just before my arrival in Senegal. As a result, the sky was cloudy and covered with a dense fog. Fortunately, there are many quiet and beautiful islands nearby, offering clean air and wonderful views of the Atlantic. One of them is Gorée Island, situated 20 minutes from the capital of Senegal. This is not only a marvelous haven for a great holiday, but above all, a place of art as well as being the symbol of one of the worst atrocities of our time -slavery.

To get to the island, I went to the main harbor in Dakar, where I took a ship. When I boarded, the ship was full of French tourists as well as residents of Dakar who work on the island.

After a few minutes, I was able to spot Gorée through the sea of ​​fog. Gray clouds chased the ship, but soon the sun came out and I was able to take some photos. We reached the island, and there I found live energetic music, children playing on the shore of the ocean, stalls with clothes and souvenirs, and loud-talking shopkeepers. The market had such a special ambiance. What a vibrant island!

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Just after I left the ship, I was approached by smiling ladies, hung with jewelry trying to invite me to their stalls. Oh, not now, dear ladies, I just came to the island! I heard several opinions, that tourists in Senegal are “persecuted” by these roadside traders who even “kidnap their poor victims” and won’t let them go until they buy somethingJ. It is true that the Senegalese are exceptionally open and direct and perhaps for those who have not had contact with them before may seem too insistent. From my point of view, they do not intend to be malicious. This is a place where people struggle with poverty and fight with it every day, where each tourist means another family meal, new clothes for their children or simply their basic daily needs. If I had the same choice, I would do everything in my power to not return home empty-handed just as they do. Do not exaggerate their insistence, as when one says definitely no, thank you, no one will tie you to a tree or try to extort money from you 🙂 .

This was my second time on the island and just like the first time, I was extremely happy when I saw the colorful and very warm atmosphere. Just imagine—no cars, no motorcycles, just fresh clean air, beautiful and tidy streets, with bright colorful houses lined with lush green vegetation as well as small squares where you can eat or drink something refreshing. Because of Senegal’s history, the houses were built in the European style. The Portuguese settled here in the 15th century, followed by the Dutch, the British and finally the French. Hence, one can see some European influences and colonial architecture. Strolling through the streets, I had the impression of being somewhere between Portugal and the south of France. Since 1978, Gorée is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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Once you are on the island be sure not to miss the historic pink “House of Slaves”. From the 16th to the 19th century, it was the main slave trading base. There, the slaves were imprisoned, sold, and then loaded onto ships and sent to South America, North America and the Caribbean. Some 16 million people were sent to plantations on the other side of the Atlantic. They came mainly from Nigeria, Benin, Gambia and Angola. Today, the Slave House is a place filled with history and emotions. Although this is not a standard museum you can still visit it. Today, you can still find there the cells for men, women and children who were bound to the walls with chains by the necks and wrists. There is also a so-called “cell for resistant people”, without windows and with a very low ceiling, which prevented them from standing up. This is a place where any rebellious captives were sent. As you can imagine, there was no question of any kind of hygiene. Bad conditions and high humidity caused numerous diseases, and hence, some 6 million died! The slaves spent several weeks in such cells before the survivors were irrevocably sent to the American continent. To this day, you can visit the so-called “door of no return”, through which people were either deported or the bodies of those who died were thrown into the sea.

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Despite this sad historical period, the local people do not live in the past. Today, the island is also well known for its art. While I was strolling through the streets, I came upon the “artists’ avenue” with its wide variety of paintings and other artistic works. Gorée Island has been and remains until today an inspiration for many artists, not only from the world of art, painting or sculpture but also music. There you can find beautiful and colorful masterpieces that reflect the other side of the island and its joyful character. Just look.

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Coming back, I heard the rhythmic sound of African Tam Tam floating towards me. It was a music group warming up for their evening concert. Although, I cannot play drums, I could not refrain from joining and playing with them. Ha-ha, they had fun with me 🙂 .

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At the end of my stay on the island, I visited the former governor’s palace in which high-ranking commanders lived. Today, this building awaits renovation, however, I was really impressed by its authenticity and marvelous view of the Atlantic Ocean.

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I said goodbye to the island and headed back towards the port, direction ⇒ Dakar.

Goree Island Senegal

See you!

Dress – ZARA/ Leather bag – BOCAGE/ Sandals – CCC/ Sunglasses – MANGO/ Necklace – Gorée Island

2 Comments

  • Richard Goree 14 May 2018 at 2:44 pm

    Hello my name is Richard Harrison Gore’e I am the author of the Acclaim historical novel Gore’e Island / Island of No return Saga of the Signares.
    I am reaching out to you in May 2018 to inform you of the soon anticipated release of my 21 year anniversary edition. After carefully reviewing your website I can appreciate your unique take on this subject matter. Attached is the link to a YouTube video that will explain the beginning of my journey of tracing my own ancestry hundreds of years into the past. It would be my pleasure to have a ongoing discussion with you at your convenience.

    Reply
  • Author Richard Harrison Gore'e 14 May 2018 at 2:47 pm

    Hello my name is Richard Harrison Gore’e I am the author of the Acclaim historical novel Gore’e Island / Island of No return Saga of the Signares.
    I am reaching out to you in May 2018 to inform you of the soon anticipated release of my 21 year anniversary edition. After carefully reviewing your website I can appreciate your unique take on this subject matter. Attached is the link to a YouTube video that will explain the beginning of my journey of tracing my own ancestry hundreds of years into the past. It would be my pleasure to have a ongoing discussion with you at your convenience.

    Reply

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