Gorée is a small island just three kilometres to the east of Dakar. It attracts lots of visitors due to its history of occupation by the Europeans and its connection to the slave trade. In the mid-fifteenth century, the island was occupied by the Portuguese who named it "Ila de Palma" - Palm Island. The Dutch bought the island from the Portuguese in 1627, renaming it "Goe-ree," meaning "Good Harbour," and it was during this period that the trade of slaves from Gorée Island commenced. The French took possession of the island for trading purposes in the eighteenth century, and then the British and French fought over the island till the early nineteenth century when the British abolished slavery.
Whilst great effort has been made to safeguard the island's history, Gorée has now also cultivated a reputation as a centre of historical preservation and education. The famous IFAN (Institut Fondamental d'Afrique Noire) historical museum is one of the first sights you see on approaching Gorée by boat. The island also boasts a women's museum, a maritime museum, a teacher training college, the Mariama Bâ school for exceptional students, and an international conference centre.
For more information about Gorée or the museums there, click on the links above.
- UNESCO - United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
- IFAN - Institut Fondamental d'Afrique Noire
- All historical facts on this page were taken from the following book: Camara Abdoulaye and Joseph Roger de Benoist. Gorée: The Island and the Historical Museum. Dakar: Saint-Paul, 1993.
“A European reader of African literature has a responsibility to recognize the tension that exists between his or her own cultural codes and those of the texts and their authors” (Hitchcott 3)