La Porte du Non-Retour (The Door of No Return)

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When I visited, a local kindly explained the very sad/morbid slave route of 6 stages to me. I believe it would be respectful to add this story to the main page. I could not find it in English, can a native French-speaker please confirm whether my translation & summary below is correct?

The Door of No Return is located on the beach about three miles south of Ouidah. Ouidah is a city on the coast of the Republic of Benin, about 45 miles west of the capital Porto-Novo. Ouidah can be reached by shared taxi, or private driver.

The Slave Route runs from Ouidah to the Door of No Return, with various statues and monuments. along the route:

  1. The first monument is at the Place Chacha in Ouidah. This was the marketplace of the capital of the kingdom in these days. This is were the slavetraders selected and bought the slaves, which were then marked with a hot iron. The slaves originated from multiple regions in Africa, but most came from Yourouba in Nigeria as these slaves were considered stronger and more productive.

  2. The tree of oblivion. This original tree was planted by the King in the 17th century. Recently a new tree was planted with a statue of a siren. Men had to go around the tree 9 times, women 7 times, in order to forget their origin, tradition, culture, identity.

  3. Last village of Zoungbodji, at the end of the marshy area. Here the slaves were weakened for two months to break any rebellion. It was also the time required to buy sufficient slaves to fully load the vessels.

  4. The cemetery. A 10x6 metres mass-grave where the sick, the tired and the dead were buried.

  5. The return tree for the lost souls. All slaves had to circle three times. For in case they would not survive (…) then their souls could return to their homeland.

  6. The door of no return, is the final monument. This is where the slaves saw the ocean for the first time in their lives, boarded the vessels, and saw Africa for the last time. The 6 stages of the Ouidah Slave route are represented in the current monument facade carvings.

In addition to these 6 monuments, also a voodoo snake temple can be visited in Ouidah (The Temple of Pythons), as well as several musea, of which the old Dutch slave traders fortress is err… recommended.

Ouidah town has some hotels. At some hundred meters from the Port of No Return some beach resorts can be found.