Island of Stolen Souls.AFRICAN-AMERICANS ARE RETURNING TO AFRICA Africa (ăf`rĭkə), second largest continent (1997 est. pop. 743,000,000), c.11,677,240 sq mi (30,244,050 sq km) including adjacent islands. Broad to the north (c.4,600 mi/7,400 km wide), Africa straddles the equator and stretches c. TO CONFRONT SLAVERY'S UGLY PAST
Standing in the Slave House on Goree Island off the coast of Senegal, where millions of African slaves saw their homeland for the last time before being shipped to America, Karen Finney wept.
"It broke us all down, just the brutality of it," Finney recalls. "I have been there twice and each time it ripped into my heart."
Finney, 32, is one of thousands of African-Americans who are traveling to Africa in an attempt to go back to a home they've never seen. With its stark, stone slave quarters, and the haunting "Door of No Return" facing the ocean where the imprisoned im·pris·on
tr.v. im·pris·oned, im·pris·on·ing, im·pris·ons
To put in or as if in prison; confine.
[Middle English emprisonen, from Old French emprisoner : en- Africans were herded onto slave ships, Goree Island has become the central pilgrimage site for a growing trend of roots tourism to Africa. Inescapably, the travellers end up having an emotional confrontation with the ghosts of slavery.
"You have to see it, and then make peace with it," says Finney, who works as a political aide to First Lady Hillary Rodham Rodham is an English surname which may refer to a number of persons or places. People
Family of Hillary Rodham Clinton
"Don't know the trade." A Street expression used whenever one party lacks knowledge of a trade or receives conflicting instructions from the other party. if my family came from East or West Africa West Africa
A region of western Africa between the Sahara Desert and the Gulf of Guinea. It was largely controlled by colonial powers until the 20th century.
West African adj. & n. , but I had to touch that part of where I came from. I have Irish friends who have gone back to Ireland, and Jewish friends who have traveled to Israel. They know where they came from."
The trend toward finding where you came from in Africa is still small by world travel standards. About 25 million people visited the continent of Africa in 1998, while Orlando, Florida The city of Orlando is a major city in central Florida and is the county seat of Orange County, Florida. According to the 2000 census, the city population was 185,951. A 2006 U.S. , alone attracted 36 million that same year. But travel to Africa is steadily increasing. Commerce Department figures show that half a million Americans visited Africa this year, double the number of 10 years ago, though the majority of tourists go to explore wild game parks rather than their own heritage.
But Goree (guh-RAY) Island, along with several sites in Ghana and Zambia, has become a popular destination for roots tours. Kate Doty, director of Africa tours for San Francisco-based Global Expeditions, says her agency's bookings have increased dramatically in the last year. She says her groups are often mixed, both African-Americans and whites.
Easy access to information--more than 2,500 Web sites are devoted to African travel and genealogy--has contributed to the surge in travel there.
Goree Island was the dramatic backdrop chosen by President Clinton when he apologized for slavery during his tour to Africa in 1998.
A SYMBOL OF THE SLAVE TRADE slave trade
Capturing, selling, and buying of slaves. Slavery has existed throughout the world from ancient times, and trading in slaves has been equally universal. Slaves were taken from the Slavs and Iranians from antiquity to the 19th century, from the sub-Saharan
One reason Goree Island has become the symbol of African-heritage tours is that most other African countries haven't put the resources into refurbishing the remnants of the slave trade that Senegal has. In fact, historians estimate that only 13 percent of the slaves taken to North America North America, third largest continent (1990 est. pop. 365,000,000), c.9,400,000 sq mi (24,346,000 sq km), the northern of the two continents of the Western Hemisphere. came from Senegal and Gambia. Nearly half came from Nigeria and Angola, which have no real roots tourism.
The Reverend Dwight Gill led two dozen of his parishioners to Senegal from the New Hope Baptist Church of East Orange, New Jersey. "It was the trip of a lifetime," he says.
Betsy Peoples traveled with members of her Temple Hills, Maryland Temple Hills is a suburb of Washington DC, southeast of the downtown district; it has an African-American majority population. It is a census-designated place (CDP) in Prince George's County, Maryland, United States. , church group to celebrate the dedication of a new chapel at a middle school in Accra, Ghana's capital. "Many African-Americans often talk about visiting `The Motherland moth·er·land
1. One's native land.
2. The land of one's ancestors.
3. A country considered as the origin of something. ,'" Peoples writes in a first-person account of her trip in Emerge, an African-American news magazine, "but once you've done it, history takes on a new perspective. To be an African-American standing on the grounds where millions of Africans were enslaved Enslaved may refer to:
Finney says she was powerfully affected by being in Africa, seeing portraits of black people on the local currency, and realizing that she was in the majority for the first time in her life. And she feels grateful to her ancestors for having survived the hellish journey to America.
But what remains with her most is the sight of the silhouetted doorway onto the ocean at Goree, where the slaves departed for their torturous passage across the Atlantic. "What strikes you is the Door of No Return," she says. "The ships would pull up and planks would be lowered to that door, and there is nothing but the vastness of the ocean in front of you. You can't imagine what was going through the minds of the people as they were standing at that door before getting on the boat. The guides told us the island is surrounded by sharks, attracted there by the numbers of people who tried to escape by jumping into the sea. And I wondered whether I would have jumped too."