Thursday, September 20, 2007

Goree, Senegal - 20th September 2007

The afternoon was spent in exploration, the island of Goree which sits outside the city of Dakar, an island with a history that is as dark as it is rich.

It is mind bending to think that this beautiful island, rioting in colour has such dark past, for Goree was one of the points from which Black Africans stepped aboard ships destined for the New World and a life of slavery.

Subsequently a fort, the island is now a tourist attraction.

Looking through the ‘Gates Of No Return’ my thoughts were of how incredibly beautiful the sea was and yet, that in the past, those passing through that gateway did so in despair, torn from their families, their villages, their land.

I walked the narrow streets, shaded by close buildings and trees, lush in greens and reds. The streets of Goree today are quite ones, disturbed only by an endless stream of tourist from around the world, including such notables a Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton and even a Pope.

At the islands highest point is a monument, funded by Black Americans it is a stylised boat in two pieces – one to signify the Black Africans who were torn from these shores and the other half for those who remained.

Walking back I sit down with Issa to indulge myself in a little bit of bargaining over a piece of art. It’s an abstract he tells me, representing all the peoples of Africa and he goes on to tell me that though the material can be valued, the idea, the art itself is priceless just so that I get the point. Issa is truly a worthy man.

His first price is outrageous, I expected no less…. I express my disdain with a laugh, telling him that he must not think of me as a tourist. He responds with a 20% discount…. Sitting myself down on the road, I invite him to give me a reasonable price. Another 10%... I respond with a number, 20% of his figure.

We seem to be at an impasse, so I double my price. He remains unmoved, coming down a mite. I offer him my last price, he declines. I see my host getting impatient... I get up to go, thanking Issa for his time…. As I walk away he comes back with a figure I am agreeable to – the picture is mine. As he removes it from the frame I ask him for one thing, to sign the year under his signature.

As I leave Issa, poses for a photograph holding our painting. His smile is big, so I am fairly confident that he made a decent sum off me.

It’s never the value finally, but the sense of a win win situation, paying an amount that both parties are happy with. Rule of the thumb, never ever go back to check the price!!!

For more pictures of Goree, see my pics at Flickr:

I leave Senegal tomorrow. My 25th country and more importantly, I do so having stood at the Western most spot of Africa. What remains are the Northern most and Eastern most points – I wonder where they are.

And ahead, perhaps a hovercraft ride!

1 comment:

  1. I was in Senegal when George W. visited Africa for the first time. As a "security precaution" they closed off all of Goree Island and removed practically all the artisans and beggars, moved in CIA operatives and fortified the place.

    Needless to say none of the Senegalaise I spoke to were too thrilled ;)