Thursday, 15 March 2012

Adventure of thrill and fear in Africa

In the month of January when most African countries are experiencing dry season faced with a hot windy climatic wave, this is not the case in Dakar. The weather is equally cool with a light drizzle that falls at any time of the day and night. The city is situated at the coast of Atlantic Ocean with majority of the medium income earners engaged in fishing business.

The people are also known for their artistic talent in making different sculptures portraying their traditional values, economic activities and slave trade in West Africa. Dakar’s road network is commendable with wide roads and flyovers in most parts of the city.

The youth in the city interestingly hang around international hotels spotting visitors who jet into the country. Once someone is trying to venture into touring parts of the city, they are more than willing to take them around at no cost. For those who love shopping, these youth will take them to shopping malls where they act as agents I realised that the shop owners will then charge you twice the original price because they need to pay the agents a percentage.

The country is purely an agricultural economy with majority of the farmers engaged in growing rice which is their staple food as well as sweet potatoes. One wonderful site someone would admire is along the shores of the ocean where you see lots of beautiful beach hotels with construction extended inside the lake.

A date with history
However, apart from the beauty of the country, one thing which is traumatizing is the historical events about slave trade business. One of the famous Islands on the ocean, Goree Island was known to be a hot spot for slave trade business in the entire part of West Africa. The slave trade site commonly known as the Maison des Esclaves is a central part of the Goree Island which was named by UNESCO as World Heritage site in 1978. It is a major attraction for foreign tourists. Only 20 minutes by ferry from the city centre of Dakar, many visitors pass through the Museum every year. Many, especially those descended from enslaved Africans, describe highly emotional reactions to the place.

The site curator Eloi Clois while narrating the horrifying story to a group of science journalists from Africa pursuing a mentoring programme on science reporting said the Island was first occupied by the Portuguese in 1444. They were kicked out by the Dutch in 1627 and the British took over in 1756. Between 1756 and 1763 the British kept on fighting over the Island with the French until they finally gave it up to the later in 1816. According to Clois, slave trade intensified in the seventeenth century with the French and British competing mainly on two issues, the Island of Goree and St Louis. When entering into this site, one is able to see the slave cells with very narrow doors. Women, Virgin girls, children and men had separate cells. The Kings who were agents of the slave traders would bargain the price of each slave depending on the category he or she falls. Virgin girls and energetic youth fetched higher price than the rest.

The fate of the slaves

Clois says those captured would be kept in these cells for six months for purposes of attaining the required weight, 60kgs. Once a slave weighed less, he or she would be dragged through the dark corridor and pushed off to the Ocean. The cells are constructed with a corridor leading to the deepest part of the ocean. This was to fulfill one of the methods of punishing slaves who were either sickly or under weighed.He contends that the Africans looked helpless because they would try to resist their captors by using bow and arrow yet the white men possessed guns. However, the African clan leaders used to ensure that every village had drum called Jembe. Once there was spread of news that the captors are within a village, the drum would be played as signal to alert the youth to run away. Slavery was abolished by the National Convention in 1794, and then reinstated by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802. It was abolished in the British Empire in 1833, in France it was abolished in 1848. The Island is just 3 km off the Senegalese coast, and its tiny size made it easy for merchants to control their captives. Today the Island is occupied by some 1,500 inhabitants mostly carrying out art and craft business.
Places to visit in Senegal

•The beach area Petite Côte has variety of beach hotels

•The Cape Skiring, where you can get a different bathing holiday, you can spend some time on your back here on some of the finest beaches in Africa, region

•The fishing town of St Louis, it was one of the first French colonial towns, and spreads out on the mainland and a small island.

When To Go
Accessible  all year round.
You can experience the fascinating combination of natural beauty and cultural heritage through contacting;
Eco Culture Tours and Adventures
Mobile: +256772379339

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