Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Door of No Return

Gorée Island is home of "The Door of No Return." This land mass played an important part in the early days of African American history. Gorée Island is a small 45-acre island located off the coast of Senegal. Gorée Island was developed as a center of the expanding European slave trade.

The House of Slaves (Maison des Esclaves) and its Door of No Return is a museum and memorial to the Atlantic slave trade on Gorée Island, 3 km off the coast of the city of Dakar, Senegal. Its museum, which was opened in 1962 and curated until Boubacar Joseph Ndiaye's death in 2009, is said to memorialise the final exit point of the slaves from Africa. Goree Island was the embarkation point from which slaves were brought to the Americas.
House of Slaves, on the Island
of Gorée, off the city of Dakar.
This picture shows the narrow
door, aka the Point-of-no-return,
out of which slaves were loaded
onto Americas-bound ships.

An estimated 20 million Africans passed through the Island between the mid-1500s and the mid-1800s. During the African slave trade, Gorée Island was a slave-holding warehouse, an absolute center for the trade in African men, women and children.

Millions of West Africans were taken against their will. These Africans were brought to
Gorée Island, sold into slavery, and held in the holding warehouse on the island until they were shipped across the Atlantic Ocean. They were sold in South America, the Caribbean, and North America to create a new world. The living conditions of the slaves were atrocious on Gorée Island.

Human beings were chained and shackled. As many as 30 men would sit in an 8-square-foot cell with only a small slit of window facing outward. Once a day, they were fed and allowed to attend to their needs, but still the house was overrun with disease. They were naked, except for a piece of cloth around their waists. They were put in a long narrow cell used for them to lie on the floor, one against the other. The children were separated from their mothers. Their mothers were across the courtyard, likely unable to hear their children cry. The rebellious Africans were locked up in an oppressive, small cubicle under the stairs; while seawater was sipped through the holes to step up dehydration

Above their heads, in the dealer's apartments, balls and festivities were going on. But even more poignant and heart wrenching than the cells and the chains was the small "door of no return" through which every man, woman and child walked to the slave boat, catching a last glimpse of their homeland.

U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama stand together in the 'Door of No Return,' at the slave house on Gorée Island, in Dakar, Senegal, Thursday, June 27, 2013. Obama is calling his visit to a Senegalese island from which Africans were said to have been shipped across the Atlantic Ocean into slavery, a 'very powerful moment.'

Reference:

Africana The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience

Source: African American Registry