Sonntag, 17. Januar 2016

The Island GOREÈ (MÄDCHEN-Insel) received it´s name from the "low german" word GOERE what describes a "small, naughty, lively girl". Subsequently the opponents of these "MÄDELINS" where forced to construct several fortresses on that island at DAKAR / SENEGAL 
that later in a certain moment became famous as Fort Nassau and Fort Orange
Image Source : TRIPADVISOR

Island of Goreé

Island of Goreé

Historic References in SENEGAL / West-Africa to the ancient Nassau County

Dipl. Biol. Peter Ulrich Zanger

The Senegal Colonial History and the Island Goreé´s Fortresses

With the development of seagoing marine vessels the european countries started to extend their worldwide influence by exploring intercontinental shipping routes, first along the coasts of Africa and then crossing the Atlantic towards America and the Indian Ocean towards East Asia. To organize their advance, all along these new discovered sailing-routes resting places to refresh drinking water and trade posts where established. Due to the within Europe competitions these harbours and market places became more and more fortified during the following centuries. 

Portuguese sailors discovered respectively described in 1444 for first time on their way to South the existence of Cap Vert Peninsula and the upstream Island Barsaguiche. From this geographical site the passage towards the Cap Vert Islands, Brazil and The Guayanas enabled the most short Trans-Atlantic crossing route to reach South America over a distance of 3000 kilometers by sea. Also as first important resting site for further coastal shipping towards the West-African Gold Coast and towards Cape of Good Hope the small island started to play an important role as naval base, 300 years before the name of the town of Dakar appeared for first time on a map in 1750.

Airview over Goreé Island and Cap Vert with City of Dakar
Source : Google Earth

Before the harbour of Dakar was constructed and gave reason for an additional military importance of the Goreé Island as armed control over the access to the Dakar harbour entrance, the island changed several times it´s "owners". The Wikipedia Encyclopedy registers 15 changes in posessions of Goreé Island between 1580 and 1814, when Netherland, England and France "quarreled" the ownership. The City of Dakar itself was founded only in the year 1857 around a french fortress on Cape Manuel. 

Meanwhile the Wikipedia-registries of the portuguese presence on Goreé Island, that they called first ILHA DE PALMA, mention only a stone chapel and a cemetery that was founded since 1450, the military fortifications must have been started to erect at a later date and probably under Dutch governance or better said under the direction of the Netherlands West India Company WIC   

This period begun in 1588 by the "capturing" of the 900 meter long and 350 meter wide island by forces of the United Netherlands. Again the portuguese recaptured it before the Dutch regained control, this time in 1617, when an apparently purchase contract firmed with a local "king" named "BETAM" formed the internal support for the possession, as cited from the "Dictionnaire universel, géographique, statistique, historique et politique de la France; Paris, An XIII-(1805); Tome cinqième, p. 569."

Despite the sales contract the engagement of the House of Nassau and Orange Trade Companies and military forces lasted only 57 years until 1664, when during the second african "Guinea Campaign" of the Royal Navy Officer Robert Holms several ships of the Dutch West India Company got lost near Cap Vert and the island was taken at 22nd January 1664 by the British invaders that acted as pirates in the name of the "Royal African Company RAC" and provoked furtheron the "Second Anglo Dutch War from 22. February 1665".

As consecuence of the mutual weakening between English and Netherland forces and Trade Companies since 1677 the French "Senegal Company" and military troops overtook nearly the complete control all along the Senegal Coast and expelled their competers from Great Britain and the Netherlands. The country of Senegal (or Senegambia) became "officially" a colony under administration of the central power of France in Paris. This condition lasted until 1758, when the British Empire overtook control in Senegal for a period of 21 years. The "London Interlude" in Senegal finished again "completely" in 1804 with a new restitution of the french administrative influence due to the politcs of the Napoleon Empire. 

The French Napoleonic Intermezzo lastet 10 years until in 1815/16 the British Empire regained the colonial control over Senegal, as tell our european history books. The British occupation ended again in 1844, when French troops newly invaded the westafrican country and guided it successively towards the indepencence in 1960 by strenghtening the countries own political and administrative structures and giving equal civil rights to all citizens.

The last sea-battle around Goreé Island and Dakar dated only 20 years before the independence of the country Senegal. The armistice of Compiegne from 22. June 1940 had divided the country France in 2 parts with the competing regimes Petáin (Vichy) and DeGaulle, the latter organizing a military resistance from his London exile. The ambiguity about the allocation of French naval units operating in international waters led to the memorable attack of British-French naval forces on the French units in Dakar (Operation Menace).

Furtheron important to mention and observe are certain themes that play a role in European and North American mass media related to the surroundings of Dakar and Goreé.  

Approaching Dakar by ship from southwest, sailing along the eastern coast of Goreé Island towards the Dakar harbour entrance. On an elevation of the islands Cap Almadies and in the background on the islands extreme opposite are visible two Forts, Fort Orange and Fort Nassau. Coloured engraving from Holland, 17th Century, based on a drawing of Olfert Dapper.
Source : Wikipedia

Drawings and paintings attributed to the Dutch painter Olfert Dapper (16.1.1636-29.12.1689) and the editor of atlases Pieter van der Aa (1659-1733) are the most early available representations of the military fortifications on the island of Goreé. Both most probably never have seen this site personally. Dappert created his drawings about Africa, China, India, Persia, Arabia and Georgia based on travel reports of Jesuit missionaries and Dutch explorers. Van der Aa firms as editor of his atlases as author of the maps and landscape images from Africa, Morocco, Madagascar, Italy, Sicily and the West and West Indies.

The upside illustration from Dapper "from 17th century" suggests the evidence of the existence of two Forts named Orange and Nassau on the island of Goreé and strengthens the argument, that during the period from 1617 until 1664 under Dutch influence and guidance first military defense structures on the island have been created that doubtlessly during the later occupations by British and French forces became extended, modernized and renamed.

A drawing attributed to Pieter van der Aa´s name and the year 1670 shows more exact details of the two fortifications viewed from the islands surface, so that an identification of both is possible. Accordingly the fortress on the hilltop of Cape Almadies, the southern end of the island, is Fort Orange, meanwhile the military constructions in the foreground of the painting that correspond to "The inside of y Fort Nassou" are situated on the more shallow, northern part of Goreé.

Fort Nassau on Goereé Island (van der Aa 1670)

But in fact, if the fortified and cannon-equipped constructions really have been established under the guidance of dutch military, then the existence of detailed architectonic construction plans in the archives of the Netherlands Westindia Company is obvious. But these data are not available with simple Internet data researches.

When Dutch influence over the island began in 1617 the former portuguese name "Palm Island" was changed into GOEREÈ by the new users. Goere is the low german word for "naughty, nasty, self-confident girl" and at same time the name of the island Goerre-Overflakke of the Zealand province in Holland. The reason of the titeling "Bad Girls Island" could be an indication for the fact, that woman have been brought to there by the sailors and became retained there, a fact that would be coincident also with the later fame of Goreé as slave trade island. 

If a phantasy generated by that name "Girls Island" or another by the editor van der Aa, who indicates on his painting the feeding of dogs with meat from barrels, justified the expeditions of Admiral Robert Holmes on HMS Henrietta in search of "Dog´s Island" that finally let to the expulsion of the "Nassovians" from Goreé, or if real human right violations on Goreé gave that reason for an naval punitive expedition is not directly to derive from the analized internet-literature that is fundament for this publication.  

The British and French maintained the islands name, when in 1664 and 1677 they overtook the control over it. Furtheron it was called "Ile de Goreé", "Goree" in English or "Gorea" in Spanish and Italian. But the new power didn´t maintain the fortresses names and established new descriptions as detailled on the following plans: Fort Orange conversed into Fort St. Michael / Michel, Fort Nassau into Fort St. Francis / Francoise.

Plan of the Island of Gorée in English

 Plan de le Isle de Goré avec ses fortificacions
according to Jacob van der Schley 1779
 Source : Wikipedia

180 years later after having passed the possession exchange of Goreé  from Dutch/English to France in 1677, the new colonial power started the consolidation of its military constructions around the new founded town and harbour of Dakar. On the islands northern extremity a circular fortress for land-sea battle artillery was constructed, but not precisely in the same site where the former Fort Nassau / Fort Saint Francoise is detailled on the upside map from 1779. The new building was named Fort de Estrées and remembered to the name of the french navy admiral JEAN II de ESTRÈES who gathered the island Goreé in 1677 from it´s before "owners". The new FORT DE ESTRÈES houses actually the Senegal Historic Museum on Goreé.

Historical calendar data are fundaments for historical updatings. For that reason it is considered here as necessary to mention, that the building up of the new insular defense constructions in 1856 follow about 100 years after a described attack of Royal Navy ships on Goreé Island the day of 29th December 1758. The second of two attacks on the island in the same year was led by Commodore August Keppel and is visually described by a sea-battle-painting of Dominic Serres in the National Maritime Museum in London. The island remained for 5 years under british flag until it was „returned“ to France in 1763. Also worth mentioning is the oddity, that during the attack the 70-gun third rate ship of the line HMS NASSAU constructed in Portsmouth 1706 bombed with it´s ship artillery the former FORT NASSAU (then Fort Francoise) on Goreé Island until the French rendered.

HMS Nassau attacks the former Fort Nassau on Goreé Island at 29th December 1758
Painting by Dominic Serres, National Maritime Museum, London

During the french colony-epoque, the southern "Arrondissement" of the country Senegal was named Goreé, same as the island. This island is described in 1907 as "36 hectares measuring, naked, waterless basalt rock, where in an old military Fort, that is connected by telegraph to St. Louis, are stationed 200 french soldiers." In addition, the island "that provides a big warehouse and a freeport is inhabited by 2000 civilians including 750 mulatto and 50 white." The climate is described as "rather insane" and the harbour , due to it´s "blocking caused by huge blocks of basalt" as less attractive, so that "the traffic more turns towards Dakar" (Meyers Großes Konversationslexikon, 8. Band, 6. Auflage, Leipzig & Wien 1907).

Not so focussed in photographies as the more inhabited part of the island is the southern rock elevation with still more evident traces of modern military use. The islands part, where initially Fort Orange or Fort St. Michel where housed, now is called simply "The Castel" on "Cap Almadies". Besides terrible rusted rests of fighting machinery artists established here an atelier and the amazing white Memorial de Goreé tries to capture the attention of the tourists and distracts from the former crude reality of this place. 

Land-sea cannons to fight against marine targets from Cap Almadies
Source : Brian Mc Morrow 22.11.2006 

Telemetric land-ship artillery optical rangefinder for sea-targets an a bunker used as painters atelier on Cape Almadies
Source :

The Goreé Monument on Cape Alamadies
 Source : ynyntyo - google panoramio


The "Slave Trade" Aspect

Slave Traders from Goreé Island Senegal
Painting from Jacques Grasset de Saint Sauveur 18th Century
Source : Wikipedia

Slavery is an phenomenon that probably during whole mankinds history has existed. Victims of civil combat or military defeats often have been submited to slavery by their subjugators until they regained the strength to abolish their terroristic supressors regimes. But a singular and historically limited phenomenon was the organized slave trade that emerged with the intercontinental navigation and the world wide operating Trade Companies around 1400 D.C. and lasted until the victories of the political liberal parts of the european societies, primarily the French Revolution from 1848, even if in singular aspects open and legally fundamented slavery still was existing until 20th century. 

Sending a ship to an overseas expedition was expensive and during decades with unestablished mechandize product exchange the return voyage with cargo not always was guaranteed. Independent operating ship crews as "stronger" components so sometimes trapped "weaker" human beeings and transported them to countries and areas with colonization projects where a great demand for human working power existed. Then by selling the humans to their new contractors the ship realized profit. So far the economical logic of the raising legal slave trade practized by states as USA, Netherlands, Brandenburg, France, Portugal, Sweden and Denmark (Source : Wikipedia) until it´s legal abolition.

Abolition of Slavery in the French Colonies 1848 
Painting of Auguste François Biard, 1849
Source : Wikipedia

Besides the literally "Slave Trade" that required the execution of force, violence and repression against the traded objects, that where moved against their own will and decision towards alien regions and forced to submit themselves without self-determination to unprivileged working conditions parallel to the lack of civil citizens rights existed also the organized migration support by the shipping companies for ethnic groups to resettle in more favorable and prosperous living conditions in other world areas. For that reason from case to case must be considered that not every ship transport with humans to other continents was necessarily against the will of the transported people. Persecuted ethnic groups supressed by their neighbours that ethnically have been more near to them, than the europeans, sometimes accepted voluntarily to be moved towards America or other destinies by ships of the East- or Westindia Companies.

But that "normal" migration in search of better destinies or living conditions distinguishes crass from the excesses that became reason for the political changes in Europe during the 19th century. This cleavage in european societies between humanistic and imperial thinking population sectors led to the development of two distinct parallel ideologies that considered one the oversea countries as own territory with the everlasting target to conquer and control completely these areas meanwhile the other searches the coexistence with and acceptance by the overseas cultures and societies.

Between 1400 and 1850 every harbour and every tradepost outside of Europe was a potential slavetrade site. In contemporary publications the term slavetrade that includes the translocation of the traded person to an alien country is often confused with the term of female trafficking that is and was a "normal" phenomenon in every harbour town that accompanies shipping and laboral movements of mostly male ship crews. Female trafficking often developed parallel to slave trade stationary besides periodic anchoring places of ships. Organized female trafficking in harbour towns often probably became the inducement for forced or violent relocations of parts of the native population related to the sexual active womans and was so a "motor" of later slave trade.

The "House of Slaves" on Goreé Island
Maison de la signare Anna Colas à Gorée painted by Adolphe d'Hastrel de Rivedoux en 1839
Source : Wikipedia

Comparative architecture: The interior of Fort Estrées on Goreé Island 
Source : yann55 - google panoramio


Comparative architecture: The interior of Fort Estrées on Goreé Island 

Literature Add:

Referring to the upside mentioned citation in paragraph 9 "Obama visit June 27. 2013" here are repeated the mentioned screenshots about the following TV News report mentioned (Toxic Water in Flint) that was later exchanged on the referring abc-news webpage to a report about Sarah Palin.




Studies and Photodocuments on Orange and Nassau. 
An Geographic Overview
 with punctual contributions
 to the knowledge of historical relationships
 referring to the distribution
 of settlement and site names

CID Institute Contemporary History Documents
 on Intercultural Growing Together in Germany

Concept, Photography Retouch, Text and Design:

Dipl. Biol. Peter Ulrich Zanger

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as far as they are known.

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