Dakar, Senegal: Not Just Another Port

Posted on 12 December 2018 @ 5:15pm

Dakar, Senegal: Not Just Another Port

As our time in Dakar has come to an end and we prepare for our first Atlantic crossing to Fernando De Noronha we are all excited but sad to be leaving such an interesting port. We were able to spend five full days exploring a city that many of us never had visited before. This port was extra special because we got a more local perspective of the city, since a lot of our port program was shared with the students from the LCB school. On our first day with them, we got to visit their school and we had conversations about the similarities and differences between our two cultures. They were able to come aboard the boat and we got to show them around our home.

On our second and third day, the group of Class Afloat and LCB students were spilt into two groups: half of us went on shore leave and the other half went to Fann hospital. Fann hospital is a psychiatric center, which has a small the garden outside. The garden was first created by the Peace Core. When they left, they left the up keep of the garden to the few workers. The garden has bananas, pomegranate, mint, peppers and much more. While we were there, we worked in the garden. We helped with maintaining the garden and doing small jobs like weeding and watering plants. In the afternoon, we went Goree Island. The LCB students also accompanied us to Goree Island; it is an island three kilometers off the shore of Dakar. We had a picnic lunch in the parking lot of the ferry terminal then we all got onto the ferry and headed to the Island. Today the island is used as a historical museum and there is 1,300 people living on the island. On our last day, we participated in a sports day that some of the LCB students organized where we played basketball, soccer, volleyball, while some people went swimming in the pool.

Class Afloat, Goree Island

View from the ferry of Goree Island 

            If you were not aware of the awful things that happened on the island, you would think that it was just a beautiful little island with vibrant coloured buildings. There were little shops, restaurants, and art galleries. We stopped at a gallery that sold pieces of art made from sand and glue; there was sand from all over Dakar and there was over 20 different colours. The sand would stick to the glue and create pictures of Senegal’s history. There were also people that tried to sell us little musical instruments. These instruments were actually really hard to play; they were two wooden balls attached on a string. You had the string in between your ring finger and you had to swing them back and forth. The guys selling them made it look so easy and when many of us tried, we realized it was not as easy as it looked. Although everything on the island was nice, the real reason we visited the island was to see the history.

House of Slaves, Class Afloat

The House of Slaves

            From 1776 to 1848 the island was used as a trading post for European countries and to house slaves before they made the transatlantic crossing to North and South America where they would be sold. This route that they traveled was used because it was the shortest possible distance and had fair winds. It is also the same route that we are going to do in a few days. Goree island was first inhabited by the Portuguese, and was later taken over by the French.

The island’s well-known tourist attraction ‘The House of Slaves’ was built by the French. The house was used to show the living conditions of both the master of the house and the slaves. The slaves were crammed into cells for months below the main part of the house. Today, the house is used as an educational tool and I believe that all of us learnt a lot during our visits on Goree Island and during our time spent in Senegal.

Goree Mascot, Class Afloat

The Mascot of Goree Island

Written by Class Afloat student, Alex Jenkins