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“I see this as a moment of great progress and great promise for the continent,” Obama said in a news conference with Senegalese President Macky Sall in Dakar.
“All too often, the world overlooks the amazing progress that Africa is making, including progress in strengthening democracy,” Obama said while touring the site.
The Senegalese slave site President Obama visited off Goree Island near Senegal’s coast was reportedly used to hold slaves before they were gathered up by handlers and stuffed on board ships bound for America. However, most historians have disputed this account, saying the site was a family home, not a slave site.
“There are literally no historians who believe the Slave House is what they’re claiming it to be, or that believe Goree was statistically significant in terms of the slave trade,” says historian Ralph Austen, a professor emeritus at the University of Chicago. “The debate for us is how loudly should we denounce it?”
Howard University history professor Ana Lucia Araujo confirmed that historians have never been able to validate the claims made by the museum’s curator, but confirms the need for slavery to be remembered.
“We have a number of tourists from the United States that go to Goree, because we have no place here to commemorate the Atlantic slave trade,” she said. “But that does not make the site a real historical site. It’s a site of memory. But it’s not a real place from where real people left in the numbers they say.”