Friday, June 24, 2011

Museu Nacional da Escravatura

The Slavery Museum is on the way to the beach. People use it as a landmark to calculate their way to Cabo Ledo. In fact, when we took a tour of it, we were waiting for friends to catch up with us on the way back from a weekend trip.

It is a small, picturesque building on a hill, overlooking the water, south of Luanda. It looks like a little chapel, because that´s what it is rumored to have been: a chapel where slaves were baptized before being placed on ships to cross the Atlantic.

There isn´t much inside. A few carvings, a few drawings. A view of the water. I saw a coin that was apparently used to identify the slave who carried it. It was from Charleston, South Carolina. Both Tyree and I have family from Charleston, and it was strange seeing such an item here, in Angola. But, this is where many slaves came from and Charleston was the destination for many. Many African-Americans must have roots here, as well as in West Africa.

It is a strange little museum. It is so understated. Just a landmark on the way to the beach. It makes me wonder what Angolans think of the slave trade, what impact they might feel it has on their lives today, if any. I wonder what it must mean, across the ocean, to their descendants in Brazil, the Caribbean, the United States.

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