The place to Explore Benin and its Culture
Benin is one of the places on the Western Coast of Africa that was involved on the slave trade. Ouidah (We-DAH) , a historical town with lots of cultural richness, is where a very special and important monument named “La Porte Du Non Retour” or “The Door of No Return” is located.Inaugurated in 1995 by a former Beninese president named Nicéphore Soglo, this monument, which is designed like a gate, is the symbolism of the departure of captive slaves leaving for the Western world. It was the last place slaves walked through before embarking a slave ship; they knew at that point that they wouldn’t be able to ever see their loved ones and were forced to leave their homeland, Benin.
Benin was involved in the slave trade for over 200 years and the last trade took place in the mid 19th century. There were four specific gates in Africa and they were located in Ouidah in Benin , Elmina in Ghana , Gorée Island in Senegal and Albreda in Gambia.How did the transaction between a slavemaster and a King worked? It was done on a barter system. Each slave trader was worth a cannon or weapons. There were other commodities such as sugar or clothes that were also deemed to be valuable and on demand.These were called the slave ports and was the main place where captured slaves gathered before being put into a slave ship.Ironically, in Benin, the port wasn’t located right by the sea.The slaves were located a few miles in-land.This meant that those slaves that left Benin had a tougher journey to achieve: they had to walk a longer distance to arrive at the embarkation location. It’s also important to remember that nowadays, the ports are using the symbolism of “The Door of Non Return”. It is ended a pathway slaves had to go through to leave their homeland however, that title was created in Benin to commemorate the ancestors lost through slavery. Let also keep in mind that there are records of some slaves (mainly from Bahia in Brazil ) that have found their way back home and shared their experiences as former slaves.
There is a chilling spirit that takes over anyone that visit this unspoilt and remote monument. I have cried anytime I’ve visited any sites on the slave route. I can’t help but feel connected to history. At the same time, there is a lot of proudness and strength that resonate through my experiences. Beninese people are very strong people. There is no way to help it. I believe it is the spirit of those that were forced to leave that remains. I have seen people shed tears, others can’t walk across that gate while the few courageous are left dumbfounded while trying to imagine what has gone through the mind of the few unfortunate people that were forced into slavery. Just imagine! One thing for sure: your soul and spirit will be moved. You will leave this place a changed and more empathetic person. Visit “La Porte Du Non Retour” only and if only who want to experience an extra-ordinary experience that will awaken and change your soul forever.