As we walked around the ruins on the banks of the Rio Nunez, I recalled the famous Battle of 1849 when French and Belgian warships bombarded the warehouses and factories in Boké. As a result of the battle, the French moved in and colonized Guinea.
The governor of Boké Province told us the area has been declared a national historic site. The grounds have been fenced off and money is being raised to restore the ruins.
On a hill above the river lies the Boké Museum, the former fort and French Colonial Headquarters.
On the riverfront are numerous buildings in poor states of repair. The museum director showed us around but expressed ignorance as to the origin or function of the buildings. He was hoping qualified archeologists would soon study the area. He thought most of the buildings and the wharf dated back to 1849.
The site is remarkable. Brick and stone buildings standing vacant, huge trees and vines growing among them, reminding me of Angkor or Tikal. A few small cannons scattered are about. Several long iron rails, possibly train tracks, lead from the almost intact wharf. Steel gun placements lie at the base of the wharf.
This is a site waiting to be studied by historians, archeologists, and anthropologists. I do hope the government of Guinea can muster the funds and the organization to save it for future generations.
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