When people go to Dakar (Senegal), Goree Islands is a MUST-GO. Everybody knows the story (or at least heard about) of its sadly famous house of slaves.
Senegal did a good job renovating Goree House of Slaves and turning it to one of the most visited historic monument of West Africa. But Goree Island isn’t the only location of Slave History in West Africa. Agbodrafo, also called Porto Seguro, an old portuguese city, is one of them. You may have not heard about it. Ever. And yet, as much as Goree Island or Ouidah, Agbodrafo is a witness of this abomination called slavery. And its story is heartbreaking.
When we arrived in Agbodrafo with my sister and my friends, after a 30 minutes-ride from Lomé by taxi (take one just in front of the Grand Market, 400 FCFA for one person), we didn’t search to long for the Woold Home. Once we found it, after introducing himself, our guide Gaskin told us the unkown story of this place. Built in 1835, the Woold Home belonged to a scottish slave trader John Henry Wood and was inhabited by a royal family. The chief Assiakoley had practiced slavery on Aného ribs but those were under the supervision of the British authorities and anti-slavery cruises. The Assiakoley leader and his associates went in the land without taking away from the sea in order to illegaly continue their trade. The house was hidden well enough and the chief Assiakoley was negotiating with tribal leaders in the north of the country to reduce their people to slavery.
The house had four bedrooms, a large living room and a cellar of 1.50m in height. The slaves were kept in the cellar, which was under the living room and in which it was impossible to stand and in pretty horrific conditions. A trap door in the living room provides access to the cellar. Gaskie sent us down there, in the dark, so we “could be aware” of the position in which the slaves had to stay for days, weeks, months. Inhuman…
Before being “shipped” to the United States, slaves were taken to a well called “Puit des enchaînés”, close to the Woold Home for an very last bath. Then, they were forced to do 7 laps around the well to lose all connection with their gods and beliefs.
The house has been renovated but there are some authentic furnitures. The ceiling has been repaired twice. During the visit, we also sometimes felt that the floor would crack under our feet. This house deserves to be renovated properly and known. Unlike the slave house on Goree Island, the Woold Home is a place that still frightens residents of Agbodrafo.
At the end of the visit, we took some times to speak with Gaskie. I asked him if he has been to Goree Island once in his life. He told us that he did. But he couldn’t get through the all tour as he started crying when he arrived on the island.
If you go to Togo, be sure to stop by the Woold Home, to learn about its history, our history, and show some support to Gaskie.
Fee entrance : 1000 FCFA