Thursday, 31 December 2009

A sad road in human history

Traveling through the Route des esclaves (the route of the slaves) in Ouidah in coastal Benin is a poignant experience. Through this road, thousands of slaves were marched to the waiting boats on the coast. Ouidah was a major slave trading center of West Africa from where west-European slave traders procured men, women and children to work in the plantations of the Americas. These human beings had the misfortune of being born in a period of history when they were forcibly turned into commodities and traded for canons, gunpowder, alcohol, and perhaps other goods unavailable on African shores.

In 1992 modest monuments were erected along the Route des esclaves – bookmarks in this dark chapter. Varun shot these pictures.

The tree and the square where the slaves were traded.

The rebels were tied and gagged.

Many died even before reaching the boats. A memorial marks the mass grave.

Free in death.

The gate of no return.

The land that they left behind… forever.

Monday, 28 December 2009

A village on stilts

Not very far from Cotonou city, is the fishing village of Ganvie. Populated with fisherfolk of Tofinu community, it is said that the ancestors of the present residents moved into this swampy patch running away from the slave hunters of the 17th Century. The village is built on stilts, and the community members ride boats into the city to sell their fish and buy their material needs. Women have a strong social and economic presence.

Varun and I shot these pictures.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009