La Maison des Esclaves

It's year 2018, 153 years since slavery was offcially abolished in America. Yet, we still live in a world of constant marginalization, post-slavery enslavement, deshumanization, post-colonialism, and economic oppression of the black woman and black man. The world-reknowned retail store HM surely proved that to us all recently. They made a mockery of the black human being, intentionally. 

It's always important to reconnect and remind one another of history; and do so now, tomorrow, and forever. Last summer, we were fortunate enough to visit Gorea Island, located near Dakar, Senegal. The goal was to get lost on the island, discover its painful history, embrace the beauty - in the blooming, surrounding nature and colorful architecture - and experience it all by all means. After a hourlong promenade, we were edging closer to the notoriously symbolic site on the island: La Maison des Esclaves.

The House of Slaves, by definition, served the very purpose of “housing” or actually storing slaves before departure to Europe or the Americas. They were different rooms, in which reportedly hundreds upon hundreds of women, men and children, were literally stacked in, shackled, mistreated, bargained, sold, killed, raped, abused, and removed from all human decency before being sent away to unknown destinations, passing through the notorious “Door of No Return”.

Door of No Return

A slave child would cost a mirror back then. Clearly, the lives of millions more would amount to nothing. Though, historians have argued that the site in particular, let alone the island, had had nothing to do with the slave trade. Still, the house remains for us all a grim memorial of one of humanity’s darkest chapter. It has long been visited by world leaders of the realm of Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama, to name a few.

Soon, before dawn, we had left the island. We returned back to the Port of Dakar, before heading home, feeling overwhelmed by the troubling history and yet enchanted by the uniqueness of the island. We shall never be denied. We shall never be removed. We shall overcome.


Photography: Aristide Loua
Art Direction: Aristide Loua
Production / Text: Aristide Loua
All courtesy of Kente Gentlemen L.L.C. All rights reserved.

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