Today, President Clinton spends his last day in Africa in Senegal. During the morning, the President participates in a panel discussion with democracy and human rights activists. Later in the day, the President visits Goree Island.
Panel Discussion with Democracy and Human
In Dakar, the President convenes a panel of leading democracy and human rights activists from around Africa for an in-depth discussion about how to strengthen the elements of civil society and promote good governance. Acentral element of the President's trip to Africa has been engaging the African people in ways to protect and advance human rights and democratic participation. The issues of promoting human rights, women's emancipation,credible judiciary and freedom of the press were key items on the agenda of the Entebbe Summit and throughout the President's bilateral meetings.
The final stop on the President and First Lady's trip to Africa is a tour of the Slave House at Goree Island. Located just two miles off the coast of Dakar, Goree [GOR-ray] Island (meaning "good harbor") stands as one ofthe symbols of Africa's past and its links to the Americas. Goree served as a transit point for many West African slaves en route to the New World.The island was also the site of the first U.S. Consulate in West Africa, established in 1883. Similar slave houses dot west Africa's coast. UNESCO has declared Goree a "World Heritage Site."
Goree Island is home to about 1,300 Senegalese. The Portuguese explorer Bartholemeu Dias in 1444 is credited with the first European sighting ofthe island, in 1444. The Dutch purchased it from the local chief in 1586,and named the island Goree. The French took control of Goree in the 17th century, and it eventually became the principal site for French-flagslavers and merchants traveling along the West African coast. After the French abolished slavery in 1856 in their overseas possessions, Goree became an outpost for policing the seas and later a base for French colonial expansion into West Africa.
The Slave House (Maison des Esclaves) is the only remaining site on Goree Island where Africans were brought to be loaded onto ships bound for theAmericas. Built in 1776 by a wealthy slave-trading family, it now serves as a museum and memorial to the many slaves who were sold into a life of bondage in the Americas.
The upper floor consisted of residential quarters for slave traders.Slaves held in the cells below were weighed, chained and inhumanly cramped into the small cell areas, before departing through the "door of no return"(the small entrance way leading to the slave ships).
President is shown the Slave House by curator Joseph Ndiaye [in-JAI],whose
personal commitment and perseverance are responsible for the maintenance of the
museum. He has personally shown the house and described its past to many world
leaders and to the First Lady when she visited in March
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