Friday, September 18, 2009

The Well of the Black Africans

The long-sealed well (pictured left) was, according to local legend, dug by African slaves brought to Taiwan by the Dutch East India Company in the mid-1600s. It's said to have been an excellent year-round water source, never drying out even in times of drought. Covered over during the Japanese occupation, it was rediscovered in 1955 and is now a national third-grade relic. It's in Lane 146 Ziqiang Street, Tainan City (台南市自強街146巷), not far from Tainan Park and the TRA Station. You'll find it easily if you follow the excellent bilingual walking maps posted on roadsides around the city.

It seems political correctness influenced the translation of the well's name from Chinese to English. In Chinese, 烏鬼井 literally means 'black ghosts well' – a less than flattering term for people of African descent.

The hand-written notice tied to the streetlight asks local residents not to let their dogs urinate or defecate here. To be honest, there isn't much to see here. The old alleyways of Ziqiang Street are worth a wander, however.

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