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Director General  José Graziano da Silva

History's lessons an inspiration for future efforts, says FAO's Graziano da Silva

Director-General with Senegalese Environment Minister and Brazilian Ambassador, visits slave-trade site, eyes nutrition-boosting efforts with local foods and farmers
Photo: ©FAO/Eric Ahounou
Director-General José Graziano da Silva visiting historic Gorée Island in Senegal

1 November 2013, Gorée Island, SenegalThe Director-General of FAO visited historic Gorée Island with Senegal's Minister of the Environment Mor Ngom and Brazilian Ambassador Katia Godinho Gilaberte.

The Director-General paid a must-see visit to the island and its slave house, which were a departure point for slaves shipped to America as part of what was called the Triangular Trade. The House is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Graziano da Silva described it as a powerful and emotional moment as he recognized  aspects of his Brazilian culture.

When standing at what is known as the “The Door of No Return,” a small door surrounded by stones, slaves knew that once they passed through it they would never go back to their homeland.

Graziano da Silva recalled the many people who lost their lives either in this house or while travelling to America. He said it stirred his emotions to think of all those men and women as well as children who had worked for the development of his own country and Latin America. Graziano da Silva said we could not go back and change history, but we could support today's Africans in efforts to build a better future. The PAA Africa Programme (Purchase from Africans for Africa) and other south-south cooperation is a small contribution in giving back what Africa gave to the Americas and to the rest of the world.

During his visit, Graziano da Silva was appointed honorary Ambassador to the world for Gorée island, accepting his "credentials" from Mayor Master Augustin Senghor. The Director-General also exchanged ideas with the Brazilian Ambassador to Senegal on the Brazil-DFID funded PAA Africa Programme, a south-south cooperation initiative executed by FAO, WFP and five African countries, including Senegal. The PAA links smallholder farmers to local institutional markets, in particular school meal programmes, enabling farmers to become more involved in producing and marketing food, while helping to supplement and diversify diets.