Off the coast of Freetown, Sierra Leone, lies Bunce Island, home to a slave castle built by European traders to facilitate their trade in human beings from West Africa. Because of its location and the local African’s specialty in rice-growing, Bunce Island has a closer link to the United States than any other slave castle in West Africa.–supplying the majority of African slaves to Georgia and South Carolina during it’s over one hundred years of operation. During our May trip Isaiah was fortunate enough to tour Bunce Island with Joe Opala, a man who’s research and preservation efforts have focused on the island for several decades, and who the academic community has dubbed ‘The Guru of Bunce Island’. Though the government of Sierra Leone has designated Bunce Island as an officially-protected site, efforts are underway to raise private funds to preserve the castle and develop it as an educational source for future generations, particularly the many African-Americans whose ancestors were enslaved and processed here on their way to the United States. The Gondobay Manga Foundation is committed to working closely with the government of Sierra Leone, Joe Opala and other organizations which understand how important this site is for American history.
May 25, 2006 Isaiah Washington and his team take a boat to Bunce Island, off the coast of Freetown, Sierra Leone.
May 25, 2006 The crew films Isaiah’s arrival at the slave castle where he is greeted by his tour guide, Professor Joe Opala.
May 25, 2006 Isaiah Washington, Tony Hubbard, and Cris Kirk of the NAACP follow Professor Opala, “The Guru of Bunce Island”.
May 25, 2006 The Europeans who built the slave castle on Bunce Island found that the deep water surrounding the small island was ideal for loading large slave ships with human cargo.
May 25, 2006 Building the slave castle on an island also allowed the Europeans to defend their business from every angle.
May 25, 2006 A historical marker inland indicates the exact location of the slave castle.
May 25, 2006 Professor Joe Opala explains to Washington the high percentage of Africans who passed through Bunce Island were destined for North America, specifically for South Carolina and Georgia.
May 25, 2006 Isaiah Washington peers through the remnants of a literal display window for the slave castle on Bunce Island.
May 25, 2006 Washington stand in the center of the ruins of the slave castle on Bunce Island.
May 25, 2006 Washington signs the guest book and pays tribute as he leaves Bunce Island.
May 25, 2006 Local fishermen wave to the visitors as they leave Bunce Island for the boat ride back to Freetown.
May 25, 2006 Isaiah Washington and his crew interview US Ambassador Thomas Hull who is a big supporter of the preservation of Bunce Island for Sierra Leone and for African Americans who’s ancestors were sold through the slave castle and brought to North America.