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tour guides tell the painful story of the slave trade

AA / Douala

Tourist activity is still slowing down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Tour guides, telling the painful stories of their ancestors, can earn more than $500 a month during busy periods.

In Benin, a country located in West Africa, Kakanakou Igor, a tourist guide specializing in African civilization, is trying to attract tourists.

It operates on the historic Slave Route in the city of Ouidah, known for its role in the Atlantic slave trade from the 17th to 19th centuries.

“The city of Ouidah, in particular, is a showcase for our country. When we talk about Benin abroad, we refer to this city for the sadly important role it played in the slave trade. our historic city and it is full of tourist sites not found elsewhere,” he told Anadolu Agency, ahead of the International Day of Commemoration of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, celebrated on March 25. .

The slave trade was responsible for the displacement of 15 to 20 million Africans, deported to the Americas and the Caribbean for 400 years in indescribable misery, just like their descendants, according to estimates by the United Nations. for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO).

The slave trade ended 200 years ago, destroying an important part of the linguistic, cultural and spiritual heritage of millions of Africans. Furthermore, the forced departure of so many people from Africa has disrupted the continent’s economy and, according to some scholars, has left Africa at a lasting disadvantage compared to other parts of the world.

Guide Kakanakou cherished the dream of becoming a language teacher. In 2016, he discovered his abilities as a guide for tourists passing through his native village of Zougbondji, through which slaves were transported.

“I like to talk about this story. Many tourists come here to learn more. I found it painful at first, but as I told it, I overcame the pain and realized that the responsibilities are shared in this great story. Therefore, talking about it no longer revolts me”, he added.

According to him, such a vestige is of real importance for tourism, which is Benin’s second source of foreign exchange income and the third largest job creator in the country.

– Senegal

The small Senegalese island of Gorée was also the scene of the Atlantic slave trade, according to UNESCO.

All day long, tourists come and go, mixing with a population of less than 2,000 inhabitants.

The island has many points of interest, in particular the “house of slaves”, an easily noticeable pink building.

“It’s the favorite place for foreigners and Senegalese,” said Mahmoud Sarr, a Senegalese tourist guide.

He appreciates this place for the emotion it arouses in tourists.

“Tourists like to hear the history of slavery in this place and they are very sad to see the conditions in which the slaves were locked up and to discover the tools that were used to transport them. It is very painful for some , but it is also important to know the history”, explained the young guide.

He thinks that visiting Gorée also enriches education in Senegal culturally, which is why schools there regularly organize school excursions.

– Cameroon

In Cameroon, Bimbia, a port city on the Gulf of Guinea, was also used for the slave trade. However, it is prohibited to tourists due to the security crisis experienced in the area.

“The area is not secure because of the English-speaking crisis that is shaking the two major English-speaking regions of the country. Therefore, no tourist activities,” a representative of Camertour, an agency, told Anadolu Agency by telephone. local tourist office, who preferred to remain anonymous.

Nevertheless, he added that it is important to work to make this place accessible because it is part of the history of African ancestors who suffered from the slave trade.

“These kinds of sites are more coveted than beaches or waterfalls. This is also the case with Manoka Island, which is home to the first colonial prison here in Cameroon. People go there every week. important to keep in tourism,” he said.

*Translated from English by Alex Sinhan Bogmis

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