West Africa Slave Trail

Over the course of 4 months I traveled some of the vast African continent with the majority of my time spent in West Africa. I didn´t go to learn about slavery but found myself learning about it everywhere I went because that is just how devastating this history really is to us humans. I eventually took it upon myself to dive into this history. Slavery is often forgotten in time because well, Would you want to remember such horrific scenes carried out from humans to other humans literally over 100s of years?…obviously not but it is not something taken lightly and absolutely one should take it upon themselves to see this history, find and understand the truth and learn from it instead of brushing it under the rug.

There is actually a Slavery Trail somewhat set up for tourism in West Africa. It is a tad controversial in some countries since it is a past not many want to remember yet others seek answers here. I am glad though it is being preserved so that generations never let something like it ever happen again. As I went to these places I found a mix of local children visiting and understanding history, I saw African Americans or Afro-Brazilians returning for the first time ever maybe touching the same soil where their family passed and I saw tourists who have no immediate ties (like myself) visiting to understand and absorb history…most of which had already been hidden from us to begin with so this was none the less eye opening and extremely sad yet I wanted to visit more and become a more knowledgeable American to the atrocities done way before me and furthermore step foot in the past of fellow friends whose families long ago went through this, survive and now generations later change the world.

My first encounter with one of these sites was in Senegal, at Ile de Goree, just 45 minutes from Dakar. Quite possibly one of the better known locations and most visited. My second site visit was in Guinea Bissau. It was here that I became well aware of the truth. Guinea Bissau was a Portuguese port for human slavery. It was so awful to learn what the Portuguese really did to people and for such a long period of time that I felt I must know more and also inform others. I was very impacted from what I read and saw that I decided I must continue to see more slave sites in the following countries I would be visiting, or at least one in each different previous colony because it was the only way I would be able to truly understand the gravity of the situation we humans put our own people through and get a well rounded perception of the many nationalities that arrived to rob humans. Yes, I know some of you may say, ¨What do you mean,¨our own people?, these were black people from Africa.¨ Well folks I hate to break it to you but we ARE all the same. The origins of Homo sapiens/human beings come from Africa. The oldest human remains have all been found throughout various locations on the African continent…and yes you might debate color of skin but you know what over time animals (yes we too are animals) adapt and change…and it happened over a loooong time (100s of thousands of years) these changes in body traits mainly to adapt to the many different environments found on earth. Having been in Africa I sure wished I had the dark skin and hair of the Africans because it is perfect for the burning sun and some of the hottest and most humid temperatures conditions found on earth.

Guinea-Bissau may have been one of the most impacting places to visit for me but all of them added an element, filling in gaps, making me question things and see what really happened. Don´t get me wrong the castles in Ghana that Obama visited do have some of the best tours that will really put you in your place and literally feel for the slaves. I am grateful for those guides who get us humans today to get emotional about this disaster of the human race…but for me above all of these types of sites were the ones where few tourists visited because it was here that you were not rushed through the chambers, the door of no return or the museum but could stay as long as you needed and simply absorb what went down during 100s of years to over 30 million human beings told to forget their heritage, their name, their family, their language, their soul and accept their owners.

Places like these need time not some tour that brings you in and out quickly because what does that do except allow a tourist to check it off the list. These are not sites for that. Serious human damage took place here whether you like it our not these were decisions of the ancestors of many people…even toward the end some Africans made profit on their own race (plenty even worked as guards) so I leave no ancestors out of the ordeal.

Back to Ile de Goree… Maison des Esclaves – SENEGAL

This charming island off Dakar is quaint to walk around, hell there is even a beautiful beach to satiate your body on hot days. Of course this 30 minute by ferry island was part of a dark past.

For this island was where slaves were brought, sold and shipped out. I visited with a tourist from the UK of African descent and we did take our time here wandering around the charmingly yet tragic place. It´s charm I feel distracted visitors from the intense history of slavery that took place here…which might be okay as many people try to put the past behind.

Here there is one house preserved, reconstructed or symbolically placed in town that you can visit. On a guided tour I learned that slaves were packed into holding cells, separated between gender and youth, with way too many people to be of any comfort. In a small room, the size fit only for one bunk bed though not even high enough for the top bunk, over 30-50 humans chained together were crammed inside, with no external windows, no toilet, no light and no common language in the suffocating heat. Those who were rowdy and didn´t follow the rules were placed in a different cell a quarter of the size of the bedroom and basically left to die. Women were separated because they were of more value if they were a virgin. Although if a ¨settler¨slept with them and she became pregnant they would have a mestizo baby so they were set free….or really forced to marry and raise the ¨settlers¨child.

While in the cells these humans were fed but if you didn´t weight enough (60k or 130lb) you were force fed just like the farm animals. Weight was important because this increased the price for sale from the slave traders. While all this was happening below these slave traders and ¨settlers¨ were upstairs in a spacious area where a nice breeze could enter. Once bulky enough for sale, humans were placed in the courtyard naked where slave traders could buy you. Purchase meant you would be next up to board the ships.

To board the ships you would pass the ¨door of no return¨as it is labeled all over many parts of West Africa. Here this is a skinny passageway directly to the sea, only one person could pass at a time. They tell you some who pass here fell into the water and were eaten by sharks but much of this House of Slaves is debatable including the numbers of Africans who had left from this post toward the New World (The Americas).

The calculations of the number of humans sent from here was around a few million in the grand scheme of total slaves that they claim was around 15 million but then again these numbers are very debatable…hidden really by nations who never counted but rather estimated. My friend who came with me say the numbers of Africans sold as slaves were much more…around 30 million given that the trading took place over 400 years (since 1400s), had many nations involved and plenty who died at sea or even before being sold left uncounted.

This island is not just a memory of slavery but also represents the start of the government of Senegal…It was here that the first leadership of Senegal began…of course the leaders were educated and directed by the French for years in order to create a government the French saw fit for the new country. …Basically under French rule with an African face. The first few leaders were educated in France and selected as president to lead Senegal….hardly representative of the local people and hardly the governmental system a country here needed at the time (a forced governmental lead by a nation of people who did not live there).

Although Senegal is mainly known as a previous French colony you must know that before they arrived it was actually the Portuguese who discovered and ruled this location first. Interestingly enough this is true nearly everywhere in Africa, whatever country you think colonized a country is only half true. The French did eventually colonize this country and others (Dutch in this case) but most were in fact discovered by the Portuguese who in general had no interest in colonizing but instead setting up port to loot all of the local resources from the land (humans came after resources) and selling it for their own benefit…only later to have swapped/been overtaken the land to the French, British, Dutch, Arabs, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Belgian, German and likely others that I can´t recall now…once they took everything they needed. (Note not all nations were in the same area, Germans, Belgians and Italians were mainly on the East Coast and Spanish elsewhere)

This was my first site about slavery that really informed me of the tragic past helping to get rid of any misconceptions I might have had on the cruel history…maybe lack of education in schools about this specific past history is what makes many misinformed..or maybe it´s hidden from us. Senegal offers many an easy first glance (well set up infrastructure compared to many nations in West Africa and visa entry ease) into this important past and it is sobering to realize what humans did to one another.

Cacheu – GUINEA-BISSAU

As I was crossing a ferry to another island (Bijaou) in Guinea-Bissau I struck up a conversation with a pastor who recommended I head to Cacheu. I was looking for an additional stop on my short journey through Guinea-Bissau and after looking it up decided to head there after my island time.

Cacheu is a tiny town on a river bank near the ocean. I arrived (maybe 2 hours away from the capital, Bissau, by bus and then bush taxi) to find no hotel except some bungalows a few miles back at the national park office. There was a presidential campaign coming into town in a few hours so everyone was on the street waiting around as I walked to the museum and fort. Only the fort was open so the following day (Tuesday) I would return to visit the museum.

The museum was highly recommended by the pastor and it indeed was excellent…except it was all in Portuguese. For me this was no problem but it will stop others who don’t know the language from learning or even visiting (not sure if there was an English guide either…

The fort was also interesting. It and the church in town are original as this was the main port of the Portuguese slave trade in the region. They actually did colonize this country compared to the many other ports they established then later traded to other nations. It is estimated some 5 million humans were sold and sent to the New World from here.

At the museum I was utterly shocked coming face to face with the huge visual image of the sardine like treatment of other humans on the boats they used to transport sold humans across the Atlantic Ocean. Some 300 to 600 human beings per boat were crammed inside the hull one next to the other without an inch (few cm) to move. Again in their own vomit, bowel movements, food, blood and more along a treacherous 6-8 weeks or up to 3 month journey to reach this New World. Obviously not all survived this wild horror ride, in fact, the conditions were so horrible nearly 20% from each boat committed suicide…just jumped ship…I mean chances of finding your family once in the New World were basically 1% so I can understand people making this decision.

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No one mentions the journey to these slave trading posts much but here I learned that once tribal chiefs traded or were captured by the slave traders they were then transported over land….walking. Famished after trekking days across land tied up by the neck and legs the whole journey…jungle or desert it didn´t matter and this was just the start…not mentioning the 3 months in dungeons to be sold or the boat journey.

The fort was petite and all white square with some look out booths. On the inside you found some statues of the men important to slave trade and some flowers and benches to sit and reflect. It was not here that slaves were kept but rather where the museum stands.

This site isn´t actually on the official slave route but I would imagine it will be in the future as hotels were being built, the museum had been updated and the road to get here was the best I´d seen in the country.

Route des Esclaves and tons more – BENIN

In Benin I encountered a lot of places with a link to slavery. Although not all were mentioned as part of a slave route. In fact it wasn´t until I got to Benin did I realize there was even a formal slave route set up by UNESCO. Basically I had already visited more sites regarding slaves on my very own then were even listed by UNESCO…aka UNESCO was only highlighting, which is a horrible word, or focusing on certain locations when in reality it must be known that this affected the whole region of West Africa and even beyond. Going deeper into each country or asking around you can find more sites and overall more places to open your mind and learn about what really happened.

Benin, really put into perspective that from this region too many Africans were painfully forced to leave everything behind by the ¨settlers¨. It was not just at the Route des Esclaves, which I visited last, that I found myself thigh deep in the despair of the land and the people, it was everywhere I went in Benin.

I visited Porto Novo and learned of the Brazilian slaves who returned in the 16th and 17th century and transformed the city with their new Afro Brazilian masonry and cultural mix. Karim Da Silva a wealthy son of a ´settler´who had returned and helped restart the city with those who returned from Brazil. He also created a museum about the culture and history of his people. Interesting to visit somewhere that was so clearly transformed by former slaves, a unique regathering of their roots (they were originally taken from this region).

I visited Abomey and became aware of kingdoms (Kingdom of Dahomey) and how one king of the 14 originals (the kingdom only recognizes 12 though) is not considered a king any longer (Adandozan) because he actually understood what was coming from the ¨settlers¨ and tried to stop his people from being taken or traded to them in exchange for fire arms and what I would call useless other things which ¨settlers¨ traded with tribal leaders for human beings. This king was the only one who would have actually stopped slavery in this region at least 100 of years earlier (1797-1818). Unfortunately he was overthrown because other families wanted the wealthy items…guns…and had no issue giving their own members of the community/kingdom away in exchange (slave trade). Such a sad reality to think about where material things were superior to a human´s life and that a king actually saw what was going on and would not have permitted it but that the rest of the high elite didn´t give a shit. When I heard this I was disgusted and in disbelief that slavery could have ended sooner but that a human being basically had little value compared to something as simple as a gun. Benin was in fact one of the regions with the most human lives were taken and traded…

It is hard to see why an African person would be involved in slave trade but people are greedy and often times they do not see themselves as one in the same like western society seems to (based on color), they saw a different region/tribe, different language, etc…and mostly were enemies…Literally they are different and didn’t see themselves harming their own people but rather those of another tribe….or maybe they were just trained by the ¨settlers¨ like the first governmental leaders. Crazy to know they (Some Africans) would either be found as guards themselves or were actually slave traders themselves (even some who returned from slavery…god know how they could do such a thing).

I visited Ganvie too. Well I actually only made it to the dock and not to the village but I made the effort. This place captured my attention the most before I learned the details of the above mentioned sites because this village was created by a tribe of a kingdom that was fleeing capture. They thought the best way was to run and create a new village on the lake. They built homes out of stilts without land, roads, the usual and moved by boat to hide from the ´settlers´. These original inhabitants were smart. They were never found or captured, hidden from view by the reeds along the lake shore and to this day the village still stands and operates. Simply amazing, too bad I missed the complete visit. The risk the people took in doing this shows you just how bad the situation here was…I mean the only safe place was….floating.

Lastly, I visited the Route des Esclaves in Ouidah. This location is not like the previous country visits, it was not really a port, yet it was. The sea lining the shore of Benin is quite rough, steep sand access with crashing waves and very swift currents so it is not like there was a pier or an easy way to access ships. The fort is in town (which is now a museum and I didn´t visit) and is where humans waited to be sold and sent. It is 2 miles from the shore.

This location is likely the most captivating because it is not merely a museum but rather an active participating walk along the road that humans sold as slaves took. You don´t read or listen but feel what ancestors went through in the past. You stop at the tree of forgetting, can walk around it 8 times and place yourself into the events that happened (to a certain degree). You can let your emotions, mind, heart and soul reach back and understand the wrong doing us humans did to other humans. You can then proceed to walk those 2 miles to the ocean under the sun, dripping with sweat and slapped with humidity while remembering, thinking and seeing it for yourself. It is a humanizing walk and the only one I know of like it, it´s waaay better than any ordinary museum. Today a monument at the end of the route symbolizes the end…aka where there is no return. The door of no return is a threshold one crosses where you don´t look back and humans who made it to here knew they would never see home, family, life as they know it again. A massive door for us to take a photo. Smile if you wish.

Elmina and Cape Coast Castle – GHANA

Ghana is my last stop on this ¨Slave Route¨. The former British colony meant I had now visited a French, Portuguese and British location for slavery, aka the 3 main nations running this in the region. Yes, all of these overlapped here and there between sights as well as the Dutch who had moments in history on this continent in the same human trafficking history. I did not go to any sights in African countries with prior colonies of the Italians, Germans, Belgians or Spanish as they tended to be more along the East Coast of the continent. Italian in Eritrea/Somalia area, German, Belgian in Rwanda,

Near Accra (capital and most economically important city) you can go to sites that are part of the UNESCO slave route. I personally wanted to go to the Gold Coast region of Ghana and see Elmina Castle, it just seemed way better than the Cape Coast Castle. I went to both to check it out anyway. Elmina was indeed way better, in terms of history, architecture, surroundings and information but the best guided tour was at Gold Coast Castle, where Obama had visited and has since made it super popular. I didn´t like it as much, it had less history, was newer and less visually appealing…but again the guided tour here really put you where you needed to be in order to see slavery the way it was and for this I am very glad I didn´t skip out.

I visited Elmina first, a castle built by the Portuguese to move local resources…gold primarily…hence the name Gold Coast….This castle was later taken over by the Dutch and reconstructed for slave trade ultimately to be taken by the British in the late 1800s. Through the changing of nations there are many architectural remnants of each country who had occupied it. It is believed that this castle is the first prefabricated European structure built in Sub Saharan West Africa (erected in late 1400s)…and it is massive not just historical.

It is a fascinatingly beautiful painted white structure on the coast next to a river inlet where fishing boats dock and head to market. From it not only do you see the ocean but on the hills behind it you can see some of the many forts dotting the landscape, the closest one was originally built by the Dutch, who wanted to control local tribal wars while they sent off humans. I make the place sound like a fantasy but in reality deep down there are many inner workings where 1000s of humans at a time were crammed into infernal spaces in the castle, again in their own waste with little ventilation, for 3 months before being actually sold.

In this castle you can see the classrooms of the mestizo children. Children that came from the women being held here to be sold where often raped and thus the child became a ¨settlers¨ child and was educated on site, never sold as a ¨slave¨although who really knows how these mestizos were treated in the ¨family¨ or outside. I start with the children because it seems less harsh compared to the actual story. I mentioned briefly that these children came from mothers who were raped. Yes, here as well as in all other sites, women were kept separate from the men to keep them from getting pregnant in the dungeons but it did not keep the male ¨settlers¨ from getting them pregnant. If pregnant by one of their own women were useless but if pregnant by a ¨settler¨this would all change. At Elmina when the men wanted sex they would simply ask for a woman to be put into the courtyard for the ¨settler¨to have. The women did kind of have a choice though. They could go upstairs and be violated and possibly become pregnant or they could refuse and be placed in the courtyard chained to a cannon ball naked out in direct sun or inclement weather for days. I can attest to the sun in Ghana being sizzling and the rain far from a drizzle but rather a pelleting downpour. The final journey out of here if not consumed by illness from the highly unsanitary conditions or disease was through a dark narrow passage that lead to the light, yes the door of no return, tiny enough for just one and direct to the dungeon on the ship for more weeks of horrible conditions before finally forced to work years on a plantation to build another country.

You might laugh but with all the crappy shit happening inside the castle of course you would also find a church within the space for ¨settlers¨ to be forgiven of their sins….omg stupid religious beliefs.

The Cape Coast Castle is much the same, big, white with dungeons below and luxurious ¨settler´s¨ quarters above it with fantastic views built originally by the Swedish (the Danish then Dutch and finally the British). Still I am not sure how ¨settlers¨ could live directly above such unfathomable conditions. Humans in small dark cellars chained together 150 or so to a small room wading in the vomit, blood, tears, feces and urine of all in the cell and those before them, here with a visible drainage system leading of course directly to the another holding dungeon. They were let out once daily to eat just enough to keep them bulky yet with low enough energy to not retaliate or rebel often. If they did rebel most castles had a special 6 person cramped cell where basically they looked forward to starvation and death.

To add to the scenario the guards of these enslaved humans paid close attention to any potential plot of rebellion among those in the dungeon. Unbeknownst to ¨settlers¨ was that these were Africans in the truest form…very diverse. Their skin color may seems the same but there are so many languages, cultures and tribes found here that among them language was a huge barrier in communication. That is right these ¨settlers¨ went and kidnapped, traded with chiefs of tribes – humans for goods, and/or ambushed them from all over the west and brought them to these cells to be sold. Therefore ¨settlers¨ often inflicted unnecessary force to trump any opposition.

At this castle it is easy to see the many different additions over the years to expand it depending on needs of the Europeans. There is also a decent museum to visit here. Again off in the distance from here you can spot other smaller forts/castles on the hills where all of the same occurred..they say some 60 were built in the region by various nations (30 remain today) to do their slave trade of us humans on the African continent. Competing nations all near each other doing horrible things.

Fort Bullen – THE GAMBIA

Oh there was one more site I visited but stupidly did not go inside and it is quite different and very unique one compared to all of these above. Fort Bullen is found at the mouth of the Gambia River in The Gambia and it was built in the early 19th century by the British as a defense to stop those who were still partaking in slave trade. The opposite, it was placed to eradicate slavery directly at the source. I feel stupid for not going in for the museum…the reason was I had run out of cash and didn´t want to walk to town and then back but instead continue onward therefore I missed likely the most unusual one of them all.

It was placed here because downstream along the river was Fort James (not easy to access – I didn´t go) where Portuguese and French slave traders frequented. With the Fort at the mouth of the river the British could fully stop them from entering…there is another bigger fort on the opposite shore of the river (Banjul side) that did the same. If traveling overland from Senegal to Banjul and beach areas I recommend a quick visit before taking the ferry. If no one is there just turn and yell ¨hello¨nicely and I´m sure the guard will come unlock the entry for you.

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Abolition of slavery

Abolition of slavery is such a crappy topic because it was by nation and region. For instance Portugal abolished slavery but Brazil continued on for 100 more years. It didn´t matter that Brazil was a governed colony of Portugal. This for me became very apparent during my visit to Cacheu which made me sick knowing the Portuguese did it that long, finding ways to keep going by manipulating wording and law. It made me realize just how devastating this was for the human race and Africa as a whole. A sneaky and stinky way to continue human trafficking without much rebellion from home because well it was more or less hidden. The same happened in many other areas of the New World even while back home it had been abolished…aka no more humans from Africa were going to Europe.

There is also a fine line to abolition as many European nations stopped only slave trade then later on actually abolished slavery. An example is France, first in 1826 a ban on slave trade but once a slave nothing actually changed until 1848. Portugal is still the worst in my eyes. In 1819 slave trade was banned North of the Equator, then in 1858 it was abolished but those who were slaves were forced to work for 20 more years before actually being free. This I had actually learned when I visited Suriname years ago and again this fact hit hard, freedom is never free.

From what I found online it seems Denmark was first to ban slave trade and slavery 1846 followed by France 1848. Ultimately Brazil abolished it in 1888 as the last nation. By the way the US (1863-65) isn´t much better nor the rest who come somewhere in the middle of it all. No one even mentions the Arabs in the slave trade but they too came and  captured humans over for work. Needless to say the many ramifications today brought about because of all this human trafficking.

Who knows really since what each nation did seems vague and what is worse is what a nation tells their population about all of it. It is striking how little we know of our history unless you lived during that time, the rest is kind of tossed around and mentioned in ways that easily hide the facts. I feel this history is often pushed aside, often forgotten (especially these 400 years of it) yet I know it should not be forgotten instead it should be from which we learn. I have read far too many reports on how many humans were sold and moved during this time, again vague calculations done, but these calculations don´t consider any that died in the process nor would a nation involved want you to know they didn´t estimate that…I mean come on 15 million humans taken from Africa from all nations seems bad enough…right? Try doubling it to include those who likely died before sale or arrival.

One last thing I want to mention is something that I hated hearing but heard a lot while traveling around West Africa and it is that history only seemed to cover the past since colonization. As if nothing existed before Europeans arrived. I know this isn´t true as each country had it´s own history before Europeans arrived just there was likely less written down in addition to no borders existing before Europeans showed up and took over. Not to mention languages were very local aka not European and the ¨settlers¨simply didn´t care to gather history and write it down for these new nations. History in Africa at times felt so forced and one sided. History existed long before any Europeans arrived and I guess this is what I hated the most, that even locals (people from these countries) today talk of the recent passt….aka European entry. But then again I guess I could say this about America and the native tribes, Australia and the Aboriginals and many many other lands simply taken by Europeans in some form and written the history for them from their arrival.

Simple Random Stories that opened my mind

One night in Senegal I went out to a popular expat hotel rooftop bar (Hotel du Phare) with a new friend for some drinks. We sat down at a large round table that slowly filled up with more guests. We started up a conversation with a 2 guys to our left, one happened to be in Dakar on a photo shoot while the other was in town for an internship. The first guy ends up being this renowned photographer who has worked on campaigns for huge companies like Gucci, Times Magazine and Nike to name a few. As we went around the table we introduced ourselves and said where we were from, I went first or last I think. My friend said he was from Guinea, had lived in several other countries in West Africa but now lives in Boston and happened to be here on his first trip back to the continent after 14 years. The intern said he was Cote d´Ivoire (Ivory Coast) and we were all impressed with how smart he was even at his young age he didn´t seem to see it we all tried to convince him of his bright future! When the photographer introduced himself he said he was from L.A. (Los Angeles, CA). In my mind I was expecting more after what my friend and the kid from Ivory Coast had said given he was clearly of African descent. I didn´t probe as I knew that was rude.

It dawned on me though that he was indeed American, even his accent said so and it made me realize that many in my country are just that, American. Most don´t know their origins and that is actually normal and should be accepted. Generations have past and many have no clues (name), stories or interest in finding out they are American or British or French or Brazilian, Cuban etc and that is correct. I was caught in the moment of all those around me being from somewhere in Africa that I let it get to my head and I expected to hear more than L.A. which is totally unfair and was completely eye opening for me to realize.

While in Ethiopia I visited Addis Ababa a few times between excursions and stayed at several different hotels. One in particular I loved, Mr. Martins Cozy Place (MM Cozy Place). It was here I met plenty of other travelers and it was a major joy to arrive each time after wandering around the often challenging Ethiopia. On one such stop over I met a woman from Israel of Ethiopian descent. Her parents had returned to the homeland but this was her first visit. She was interested in seeing first hand her culture and had planned a short 2-3 day pre-visit as part of another trip to get a feel for the country. I asked if she wanted to join me for lunch, she agreed and we went for a walk to find a spot.

She was very happy to have met me because her trip was so short and I had plenty of information to share with her given I had been traveling around the country a few weeks already. In fact she was leaving that very evening. It was nice to talk with her and see her absorb the culture, she even mentioned things she grew up with of the culture back in Israel which I didn´t realize had such a large Ethiopian population (largest outside population is in DC which I had heard about since arriving). She said she wasn´t used to this type of destination or the real Africa because her vacations were usually to more developed countries and it was really harsh for her to witness it. I was impressed when she mentioned though how nice it was it fit in, aka to be around people of the same color, for once. Again I didn´t probe just heard her out and it made me realize just how difficult it must be for people of color elsewhere that even though Ethiopia is less developed and challenging it was still an amazing feeling for her to not be a minority. We ate lunch and then I made sure she didn´t miss the local fresh juice on her trip and then we went our separate ways.

I guess what I want to say with these stories is to simply listen. Let your ears hear what life really is like for people from Africa living elsewhere in the world. If you can do that you will be surprised at what you learn and may realize how you can change.

I think a lot of times all of my travels makes it hard for me to see that discrimination toward a certain race or type of people continues to happen but as I have listened over the years I hear it first hand and have learned to be compassionate toward what truly goes on in a society where few might take notice of these inequalities happening as we go about our daily lives. It happens everywhere, even in Africa there is discrimination, and no I don´t mean to a white person traveling there; yes that happens too, but even among Africans there are inequalities. Education and communication are what I see needed to make changes and it starts with you.

I really hope you were able to learn something from my trip through several slave posts around West Africa as this was my only intent, to inform and educate. I doubt many have had the chance to see these places for themselves let alone have made an effort to include them on their vacation but know they are relevant for everyone.

More info:

Unesco Slave Route

Unesco Slave Route Map

Benin Kingdoms and Slave Trade

Goree Island Perspective

Suicides on slave boats

My blogs:

Guinea Bissau

Benin

The Gambia

5 thoughts on “West Africa Slave Trail

  1. Maureen says:

    I think you may really like Zimbabwe. I had a coworker from there and he liked to brag about two things: 1. He was able to spell his long name so he skipped kindergarten and 2. They have a very old civilization with a UNESCO site.

    Also, I am curious what places you would revisit, either because you want to see or do something again, or because you felt like you missed something?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. whereintheworldistag says:

      I will definitely get to Zimbabwe one day…the Zambeze River is there!
      In Africa I would return to Tanzania – loved Zanzibar and I want to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro some day. I would also go back to Togo, I only had 3 days there and I want to see the North so most likely on a Burkina Faso Trip. Ghana for sure I’d return, such amazing people and landscapes to see. I was really impressed with Ghana, so friendly! And one other would be Cape Verde…what a cool place…I will go back to see more of it’s beautiful islands and rich culture…plus if ever needing a break from the continent you will find me there.
      So to answer your question, many places I wouldn’t mind going back to and I do see myself going again but not just because I missed something.

      Like

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