Goree is an island located 2kilometres off the coast of Dakar in Senegal, approximately measuring 28 hectares. It was a prominent slave trade region during the Atlantic slave trade in the 15th to 19th centuries. Following the ongoing protests to address racism violence in the world, authorities renamed one of Goree’s main squares. According to the UN’s cultural agency, Goree was the largest slave-trading center on the African coast.
Since Goree was centrally placed, strategically positioned at the coast between the north and south, the European nations used it as a slave market. Occasionally the British, French, Dutch, and Portuguese conflicted over it. However, the first people to inhabit it were the Portuguese. Besides, it was also a spot for anchoring their ships. The island consisted of dozens of slave houses that the colonizers used as captive zones for their slaves. As a sign of universal conscience, this island is a memory island.
It was on Saturday during a press briefing when mayor Augustin Senghor renamed the Place de I ‘Europe as Place de la Liberte et de la Dignite humaine. The latter means Liberty and Human Dignity Square. Goree is a designated prehistoric site that UNESCO listed as a symbol of human exploitation.
Mamadu Adama Diop, the chairman to mayor’s cabinet, stated that Europe did not influence their decision to rename the Place de I’Europe. He said their decision is not directed against Europe. He told AFP they have always had a mutual relationship with the European nation who have always supported them. Moreover, there were Europeans of dual citizenship in their municipal council.
The European Union “has always supported Goree” and “there are Europeans of dual nationality on the municipal council,” he told AFP.
Why rename the square?
According to Mayor Augustin, they decided to rename the square following the ongoing protests on racist violence. Human activists have been protesting across the globe endorsing equality among people of a different color. Blacks leaving abroad, especially in European nations, have been facing a lot of brutalities from white police officers.
Many have been protesting, endorsing equality following the unjust murder of George Floyd. Often blacks and afro-descendant communities are common victims of color discrimination. This is something that should stop.
Goree is a prehistoric site with memories of African enslavement during the colonial times. As such the municipal council intends to stay at the forefront of eradicating racism.
Goree wants to be “at the forefront of the fight for the total and final eradication of all forms of racism, particularly those directed against black people, in accordance with its vocation as a place of memory,” it added.
The council is yet to release the rename date. However, there are delays because of coronavirus pandemic. The inauguration will contain tributes to Floyd, an unarmed African American who died in May with a policeman’s knee on his neck, and the victims of racial crime, with the help of Senegalese artists, the municipality said.