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February 17, 2022 38 min
National Geographic Explorer Tara Roberts heads to Africa, her ancestral homeland. She visits Doors of No Return, walks the slave trail in Benin, and learns about the long legacy of African free divers who excavated ships all over the world as far back as the 16th century. After an initial burst of Afro-joy, Tara soon realizes she’s viewed largely as American rather than Black on the continent. Her understanding of self, Blackness, and Africa are turned upside down. But later, while dancing to South African house music under the stars, she finds a connection once again. Want more? Check out our Into the Depths hub to learn more about Tara’s journey following Black scuba divers, find previous Nat Geo coverage on the search for slave shipwrecks, and read the March cover story. And download a tool kit for hosting an Into the Depths listening party to spark conversation and journey deeper into the material. Also explore: If you’re interested in the history of Black aquatic culture, historian Kevin Dawson lays out the connections between African people and the water in his book Undercurrents of Power: Aquatic Cultures in the African Diaspora. Read the powerful account of Kossola, also known by the name Cudjo Lewis, in author and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston’s book, Barracoon: The Story of the Last ‘Black Cargo.’ Find out more about the many “doors of no return” that dot Africa’s west coast, including the sites at Ouidah and Elmina Castle, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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