Goree Island

January 4, 2011

With Queen Mother on deck we took a bus from the hotel Le Merridian to the docks. In the bus was a number of folks including Capelton as well as The Queen’s many assistants. Capelton’s entourage as well as the man himself, were all very nice. We had good conversation along the way. Once we got to the dock a collection was made of 5000 francs per person to sail to the island. Once we got on the boat we realized it was actually the President of Senegal’s private boat placed aside for Queen Mother. Busta Rhymes joined us for the voyage and had an in-depth discussion with Queen Mother. They talked about how hip hop can inform the diaspora about the importance of places like Goree.

As we arrived on the island many of its current inhabitants came to greet us. We walked through town getting an oral history on what happened there. Once we reached the slave house I felt a chill come over me. I didn’t need to be told where we were. I felt it. I felt my ancestors. My body became very tense and mixed with emotions.

Inside the slave house we received an education on how these captured Africans were treated. It is one thing to read about these things but to see the cells where human beings were kept as property… I will never forget it. There were times where I felt overcome but I held it together. There was a small hole of a cave where the rebel Africans were placed as a punishment. I was told that they didn’t worry about putting to many inside, rather how to close the door one they finished. To call it a rough experience is an understatement.

On the way home I had a brief talk with a few members of my party. Many felt they were changed from the experience. Queen Mother told me that everyone has their own reaction to the visit. We each have to digest the feelings for ourselves.

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