Visit to Gorée Island: Museum of Slavery and Artist Colony


Gorée is two things: an artist colony and a point from which many of the 12-15 million slaves from French West Africa were exported to America, the Caribbean and Europe. Other things have developed on the isle since such as restaurants, museums and artisan markets. But the art and the museum are the two main points of attraction.  When we disembarked from the ferry, we headed straight for the Musée des Esclaves. Fatih and Tsiaba, our guides for the day, taught us the history of the building, the treatment of its past inhabitants, including the Porte Sans Retour, through which the slaves boarded the outward-bound ships, tout en français bien sûr, After, we ate lunch while entertained by a Kora player. We then visited the Museum of Women, the History Museum and the bijouterie and got assailed by street merchants brandishing their merchandise. Jackson, Madame Mapstone and I ascended the steep hill to the artist colony while the girls, guides included, shopped in the artisan market. The sides of the streets leading to the summit are lined with brightly colored art work, multi-media pieces made from recycled materials, sparkling jewelry and enthusiastic merchants who solicit our attention; wherever we go, the merchants follow. The artist colony itself was at the top of the hill where Jackson and I met Oscar, an artist who had made his home out of an abandoned, underground colonial bunker. Oscar gave is a tour of his dwelling, introduced us to his family and invited us to tea that night, although we had to leave on the next ferry, unfortunately. This hospitality to a complete stranger, let alone a Toubab, is the embodiment of the Senegalese core value of Teranga. After capturing a lizard on film, we set off back on the next ferry to bustling Dakar. Brian

Visit to Gorée Island: Museum of Slavery and Artist Colony

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