Visiting Goree Island as the first African American President, Barack Obama said it was a very powerful moment. The port of the Senegalese island was one of the gateways of the slave trade to the New World up to the 18th century.
Staring out across the ‘Door of No Return’, Obama used the occasion to launch a defence of human rights saying the house was a testament to what can happen ‘when we are not vigilant.’
Sidi Hairou Camara, President of the ‘Senior Citizen’ University said:
“It’s not easy to forget our grandparents, our great-grandparents were placed in these conditions, but we forgive.And that’s why we want this relationship with the United States to reflect the past, so that everyone can take responsibility with the role they played in this.”
Meeting with his Senegalese counterpart Macky Sall, Obama called on African governments to give homosexuals equal rights. Thirty-eight countries still consider homosexual acts as criminal. Sall responded by saying “Senegal is not yet ready to decriminalise homosexuality.”
Obama also took the time to praise former South African leader Nelson Mandela, calling him a ‘hero’. He is due to visit the country on Friday, where the icon of South African freedom lays critically ill in hospital.