The Obama’s Prove Why Gorée Island, Senegal Should Be The Gateway To Your African Vacation

By Leah Freeman-Haskin


Gorée Island is located off the coast of Senegal, and according to unesco.org, from the 15th to the 19th century, it was the largest slave-trading center on the African coast. Today, the island is dotted with the remnants of slave quarters that pay homage to the suffering of our African ancestors. The island has also become a pilgrimage destination for the African diaspora.

Goree Island, Senegal | Steve Duchesne | Getty Images

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The Obamas visited the island in 2013. In hindsight, Michelle Obama reminisced on their experience on the FLOTUS Travel Journal, writing, “On our tour of the island, we saw the dark, cramped cells where dozens of people were packed together for months on end, with heavy chains around their necks and arms.  We saw the courtyard where they were forced to stand naked while buyers examined them, negotiated a price, and bought them as if they were nothing but property. And we saw what is known as ‘The Door of No Return,’ a small stone doorway through which these men, women, and children passed on their way to massive wooden ships that carried them across the ocean to a life of slavery in the United States and elsewhere – a brutal journey known as the ‘Middle Passage’.”

Obamas Visit Goree Island | Photo by Pete Souza

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For many, a trip to the island provides a bridge to the past that is both healing and heartbreaking.

Gorée is an island that can be explored in one day, offering an ideal gateway to an African vacation before setting off to other destinations. Once you have had a chance to visit the House of Slaves, a last station for slaves, where they were held captive under horrific conditions before being brought over the Atlantic sea, be sure to climb to the top of the castle of Île de Gorée, where you will experience breathtaking views of the island and sea.

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Leah Freeman-Haskin

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