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Thursday, April 2, 1998 Published at 18:06 GMT 19:06 UK

Clinton visits African slave island

The visit to Goree Island was an important moment in Clinton's African tour

President Bill Clinton has rounded off his visit to Africa by making a visit to an island off Senegal, which was one of the shipment centres from where millions of African slaves were sent to America.

President Clinton bids Africa farewell (0'45")
Freed by the dismissal at home of a sexual harassment lawsuit against him, Mr Clinton and his wife Hillary were taken to the island of Goree by Senegalese President, Abdou Diouf.

"Door of no return"

The Clintons walked through the narrow passage, next to tiny holding cells, from where more than two million manacled Africans, according to some estimates, were marched onto slave ships and transported to other countries between 1680 and 1786.

[ image: The 'Door of No Return']
The 'Door of No Return'
Above the door to the passage is written the inscription: "Door of No Return. From this door for a voyage without return. They went, their eyes fixed on the infinity of suffering."

Goree is a well-documented centre for the slave trade and Clinton's visit will be of importance to many African Americans, to whom the island is a testament to their forefathers.

[ image: An emotional moment]
An emotional moment
Indeed, the island has become a place of poignant pilgrimage for many African Americans who are keen to rediscover their roots on the continent.

Idyllic setting

Yet despite its horrific history Goree is also a beauty spot.

[ image: The picturesque setting]
The picturesque setting
With a glittering coastline and sandy beaches, it has the potential to be a fine holiday destination.

Tourists and Senegalese escape to the island to seek a quiet retreat from the bustle of the capital, Dakar.

No more apologies

President Clinton's farewell speech at the end of the visit did not contain the apology for American participation in slavery, which some African Americans had hoped for.

He did say however that he believed there was an African renaissance, and paid tribute to the role African Americans have paid to American life.

[ image: The manacle to which slaves were subjected]
The manacle to which slaves were subjected

He said: "The long journey of African Americans proves that the spirit can never be enslaved. And that long journey is today embodied by the children of Africa who now lead America in all phases of our common life."

He also paid tribute to African leaders who were committed to freedom.

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Internet Links

Goree Island

Republic of Senegal (government site in French)

Africa Online

The White House

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