Heritage

The House of Slaves and its Door of No Return – Senegal

The House of Slaves and its Door of No Return was built in 1776-1780 by the Dutch to detain slaves waiting to be sold and for shipment. The Atlantic slave trade saw millions of Africans transported in terrible conditions from the continent´s West Coast to work on plantations in the Americas. Today the House of Slaves (Maison des Esclaves) on Gorée Island, 3 km off the coast of the city of Dakar, Senegal, is a museum and memorial to these people.

The Door of No Return was a bleak opening on to the water that symbolises how the Africans were torn away from their homes and families forever.

The House of Slaves, a typical example of colonial architecture, was reconstructed and opened as a museum in 1962 largely through the work of Boubacar Joseph Ndiaye (1922 – 2009). Ndiaye was an advocate of both the memorial and proclamation that slaves were held in the building in great numbers and from here transported directly to the Americas.Eventually becoming curator of the Museum, Ndiaye claimed that more than a million slaves passed through the doors of the house. This belief has made the house both a tourist attraction and the site for state visits by world leaders to Senegal.

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