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Dakar, Senegal

One of the most vibrant and cosmopolitan African cities, the Senegalese capital bears many visual reminders of its past as a French colonial outpost. Despite the Parisian-style boulevards and buildings, however, there is a distinctly African feel to the city. Bankers and executives can be seen going about their businesses dressed in the flamboyant traditional Grand Boubou costume, and women wear the feminine version with an equally striking headpiece. The common language is French, although many citizens may also speak as many as five or six ethnic languages, since the whole coast of West Africa has been steeped in a heritage of mutual trade for centuries. Among the many sights and sounds greeting visitors, none is more evocative and sobering than a visit to Goree Island and its House of Slaves. This fortress, just offshore of the city waterfront, displays many reminders of the brutal trade in human beings, including an unimposing doorway, set just above the waterline in the seaside wall, identified simply as the “Door of No Return.”