A UNESCO world heritage site, Goree Island is deeply rooted in the history of the TransAtlantic slave trade as the transshipment point of millions of African slaves who were captured and shipped into bondage to the Americas over a three hundred year period. From the beginning of the sixteenth to the mid-nineteenth century, men, women, and children were gathered on this small piece of land and locked up in cells before being shipped away to the New World, West Indies, and South America.
The island was seized by the Portuguese, the Dutch, the French, and the British all of whom participated in the trade. Forts and cannons attest of the island's violent past. Most of the buildings were used as warehouses or slaves' houses, and today many have been turned into museums.
You can't visit Dakar without experiencing Goree Island. Just 2 miles offshore from the mainland, the scenic 25 minute ferry ride to the small island gives you an offshore glance of the beautifully restored island with its old fort area, rocky hills, and historic buildings.
The House of Slaves
Go back to a moment in a dark time in history and visit the slave cells and the apartments of the slave dealers upstairs. The first record of slave trading there dates back to 1536 by the Portuguese who were the first Europeans to set foot on the Island in 1444. Chained and shackled, as many as 30 men would sit in an 8 sq foot cell with the women in separate cells and the children separated from their mothers. The house was overrun with disease and the slaves were only fed once a day. Meanwhile, in the dealer's apartments above their heads, balls and festivities were going on.
The House of Slaves or “La Maison des Esclaves”was built in 1776 by the Dutch and is the last slave house still standing in Goree and now serves as a museum. The visit also includes a curated lecture on three to four centuries of the TransAtlantic slave trade as it happened in West Africa.
Door of no Return
More heart wrenching than The House of Slaves was the small "Door of no Return" where every slave caught a last glimpse of their homeland before boarding the slave ships.
A Moment to Remember
After prayers and libation to the memories of our ancestors who perished during the passage, the tour continues with stops to Musee de la Femme (The Women's Museum). We'll also visit the Memorial of Goree for an opportunity to meet the populations at Goree for a cultural exchange to interact and socialize with them.
After the moving and informative tour, we conclude with lunch at the famous restaurant of Goree “Le Chevalier de Boufflers,”