WATCH: Follow the history of chains on Africa's Slave Route

2019-07-02 05:30 - Gabi Zietsman
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It may have been centuries since the abolition of the slave trade, but the scars of history's most horrific abuse of human rights are still felt across the world, especially in Africa. 

And at sites that do not shy away from the painful memories of this period, we are reminded of how far humanity has come and how far we still have to go. 

WATCH: A pilgrimage of memory to Robben Island 

statue of hand reaching out to a mountain

A statue linking the Le Morne site to Goree Island. (Photo: Gabi Zietsman)

I recently made a sombre visit the Slave Route Monument at the foot of Le Morne Mountain in Mauritius - an island which served as a major port for the trade and was pivotal in the creation of its modern Creole society. 

Like many places attached to the history of slavery, Le Morne has a unique story to tell.

It was the home of a group of runaway slaves - who preemptively opted for the 'kiss of death' rather than return to a life in shackles. 

slave monument

The Le Morne Slave Route Monument. (Photo: Gabi Zietsman)

But not only does the monument link today with the memory of the past, it also links to other famous slave sites across the continent and further, captured in the art of their descendants. 

Travel is supposed to widen your mind for a brighter future, but it's also important to travel in the footsteps of those that came before, lest we forget what humanity can be capable of. 

READ: Strengthened ties and laces as SA's slave race inspires Reunion Island 

engraved rock of a mother and child

Another artwork at the monument. (Photo: Gabi Zietsman)

Here are more slave heritage sites to visit across Africa.

Iziko Slave Lodge, South Africa

One of the oldest buildings in Cape Town, this museum pays homage to the victims of slavery that found themselves on South African shores. It tells their stories through rotating exhibitions, and shares memories of the homes they were taken from.

WATCH: Slave Route Challenge: Contrary to Kanye's belief, slavery is not a choice 

Ouidah Museum of History, Benin

Benin was one of the biggest slave trade centres in Africa, and in this city nearly one million souls boarded ships in shackles for faraway destinations. The museum is situated in a Portuguese fort that was used extensively to house humans as goods. 

Goree Island's House of Slaves, Senegal

Just off the coast of Senegal's capital, Dakar, lies a tiny, carless island that has dark roots in Africa's colonial history - but today the Slave House stands as a beacon for reconciliation. But much debate surrounds the island's historical prominence in the slave trade - some historians claim that its status as a transit point for slaves has been exaggerated, yet it boasts a World Heritage Site status. 

ALSO SEE: The Island of Gorée: The gateway to slavery 

Elmina Castle, Ghana

Built by the Portuguese, this is the oldest European building still standing south of the Sahara Desert and traded in about 30 000 slaves every year until the Dutch abolished the trade in 1814.

Island of Mozambique, Mozambique

Old Portuguese forts dot the island, which was once used as a major post for the European colonialists on their trips to India, trading slaves alongside spices and gold.

QUICK GUIDE TO MOZAMBIQUE: Visa-free travel for South Africans 

Historic Centre of Ribeira Grande, Cape Verde

Another important outpost for Portuguese rule in the Atlantic Ocean, the town renamed to Cidade Velha had many African slaves pass through its ports, creating an intercultural Creole society.

Kunta Kinteh Island, Gambia

Nestled at the mouth of the River Gamboa, Kunta Kinteh was embroiled in a fight against slavery - while the island sought to control the trade, it was flanked on the banks of the river by forts specifically built to stop slavery. 

Bunce Island, Sierra Leone

The ghost town just 30 kilometres from the capital sent tens of thousands of slaves to America, and nothing else was built on this island after the British abolished slavery.

TRAVEL PLANNING: #AfriTravel: Turkish Airline adds Sierra Leone to its growing African network 

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