We did one of the obligatory tourist trips in Dakar, a day trip to Goree Island. This tiny 900 m by 350 m island is a UNESCO world heritage sight just off the coast of Dakar and is primarily of interest because it was used during the slave trade but also because it still has so many (reasonably) well preserved colonial buildings and is really very picturesque.
There is a bit of debate as to the extent of slaving going on from Goree but it was undoubtedly one of the places used by the Portuguese, Dutch, English and French to trade slaves. The museums on the island certainly hammer this shocking point home and I felt a bit dirty by the end of this being a white man in this place with such a bad history of abuse of Africa.
The islands history may also have had an effect on some of the locals on the island as one in particular insisted vociferously and almost violently that we pay a 10% tourist tax to be on the island! He held Keith’s arm and wouldn’t let go until we physically ripped him off! We are pretty used to being bothered now but this was another level, the guy was insisting he was official but he was in plain clothes and was flashing a badge at us that I could have printed out when I was 13. Of course he only targeted the white people arriving by boat and the 400 other people on the boat didn’t get any attention at all.
This encounter somewhat soured our visit of an otherwise idyllic and beautiful island with a past and a message to tell still. I can’t help feeling though that rather than treating the place in the right way people seem to be out to exploit the place in every way possible, including making toobaps (white people, or literally “converters”) pay more than 3 times what the locals have to pay to get a boat or museum ticket.