10.11.2009

Today we left the Auberge around 8.15am and went to a couple of other schools and villages to take more pics of the adopted kids before leaving Lokossa.

We then made our way towards Ouidah (also known as Whydah) that was one of the most active slave trading ports in all of Africa.

We stopped briefly to grab something in a little restaurant on a lake, called Lake Ahémé, the second largest lake in Benin. The surrounding was all very lovely.

There was a village next to it that we went to visit with a guy that was so eager to share with us some true African stories and traditions.

He took us to all voodoo symbols that were used for the village rituals. Everybody in the village was looking at us with a very serious and suspicious look: they would shout hard if we were seen taking any photos.

The guy was explaining that many of the rituals are to bring people an a ‘trans’ during which they cut themselves…

Lets move on from these stories onto some heavy heritage now-

Romi took us through The Slave Route: a track down which slaves were taken to the ships, lined with monuments and leading to the Door of No Return, a memorial arch on the waterfront.  

The Route des Esclaves is a 4km road lined with fetishes and statues where the slaves would take their final walk down to beach and to the slave-ships. Important memorials have been set up in the last village on this road, which was the ‘point of no return’. Ouidah is where slaves captured in Togo and Benin would spend their final night before embarking on their trans-Atlantic journey.

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We went through this 4km ‘journey’ by car, which was the same distance done by slaves tightened in heavy chains from the 17th- to 19th-century. There were about 4 stops, 1) where the slaves arrived, 2) where the slaves were chosen, 3) where the slaves were kept in the dark, and finally 4) where the slaves were put on the boats to leave the Continent.

It was a very emotional drive…

We then went to the very basic hotel, as usual but more special because it was situated on the sea. There was also a swimming pool with salty water- we took a dip and felt as that was actually very luxurious (…having a dip in the water)…I meant we appreciated so so much that moment when we could enjoy the feeling of water on us.

….we took the walk to the Door of no return on the beach.

It was an amazing walk, with great scenery, the sound of a very ‘angry’ sea and long statuary palm trees all around (THE ANGRY SOUND OF THE SEA).

A day mixed with painful and beautiful scenes and many reflections… History has the power to teach us invaluable lessons, for us to treasure.

“History is not a burden on the memory but an illumination of the soul.” Lord Acton

La mia Africa

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