Magazine article Islamic Horizons

Gorée Island

Magazine article Islamic Horizons

Gorée Island

Article excerpt

A ferry takes me to Gorée Island, a must for anyone who wants to have an inkling of the African American slave experience. It is the reverse Ellis Island. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1978, it served as a port of exit for the slave trade as Africa's westernmost point. In 2013, Obama became the third American president to visit here. Clinton visited in 1995 and George W. Bush came in 2003.

Over 300 years, some 150 million captive slaves passed through West Africa on the way to the New World. Twenty million disembarked on the island for about a three-month stay. Why? About 30 percent of all slaves died in sea transit. Gorée was a sorting place where some would be fed to the prerequisite 130 pounds. Then, as a trial, ship-shaped stone buildings were packed like sardines with slaves for weeks. The ones who died in these simulated conditions were not worth the trip overseas. Overall, six million of the 20 million died here. …

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