Despite the claims by Senegal’s tour guides and tourism industry, Goree Island was never a major shipping point for slaves, historians say. No slaves were ever sold at what is known as the House of Slaves, they insist. No Africans ever stepped through the infamous Door of No Return to waiting ships.
“The whole story is phony,” said Philip Curtin, a retired professor of history at Johns Hopkins University who has written more than two dozen books on the Atlantic slave trade and African history.
First used as a stopover by Portuguese sailors in the 15th Century, Goree Island was bought for a few iron nails by the Dutch before being seized by the French and the British.
Although it functioned as a commercial center, it was never a key departure point for slaves, Curtin said. Most Africans sold into slavery in the Senegal region would have departed from thriving slave depots at the mouths of the Senegal River to the north and the Gambia River to the south, he sai