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Photo by Elke Schmidt, Senegal Bridge Year Program.

‘Door of no return’

I saw a grown man standing in a quiet corner and crying his eyes out. I felt that way too and most everyone else would have also.

Goree Island – a picturesque UNESCO heritage site, with cobble stoned, colorful patina’d colonial homes and bougainvillea draped walls and gates is just a 20 minute ferry ride from Dakar.  The beauty of this tiny island belies the garangutan tragedy and horror of the 400 year long slave trade that happened from here.

In the Maison des Esclaves, now a museum, there are small tiny rooms African men women and children were packed in, shackled and held captive before being shipped to the new world as slaves. Many died during the journey or were thrown overboard if they were just sick.  You wonder what was a better fate.

To stand on the ground that these human beings, people of our flesh and blood stood on and cried their tears, to touch the walls that all those people touched and leaned against and calmed their children down, to hear that the only hope for the women was to be selected to be raped and get pregnant since it was the only way to freedom, to just be there was an overwhelming, painful, deeply, simply sad experience.

Today Ile de Goree is bustling with artistes and educational and medical institutions, filled with tourists, everyone feeling the tragedy… reconciliation….

It’s present picturesque beauty cannot be denied and should

be appreciated but let us not forget ..