Sunday, December 26, 2010


Several years ago, I had the opportunity to visit Dakar, Senegal. I of course stopped by Isle de Goree, where a museum now rests on the site where African slaves were housed before being sent to the New World.

It's a fascinating place – even though this was not one of the primary slave-shipping points, as it's touted to be, it was still a prison for many Africans, the last time they would see their homeland before being shipped off god knows where. The experience of walking through is quite overwhelming; one can't help imagining hundreds of slaves crammed into the tiny rooms like sardines, with barely enough food or water to survive. The conditions were obviously awful; those who didn't survive the wait to get on the ships were simply thrown to the sharks below.

All of that, however, was lost on some visitors to the site. I overheard one African-American woman talking to her companion about one of the rooms where they kept the slaves. "My god, you couldn't even fit a washer-dryer in here," she said of a room that once housed up to two dozen women and children.

Ah, so very perceptive. I guess you can't help the way you see the world.

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