Friday, September 16, 2011

Slave Route in Nigeria

From Africa Travel Magazine, "Discover the Slave Route in Nigeria," by Dr. Beryl Dorsett: A darker historical era saw many people of West Africa leave their shores for plantations in Europe, North and South America and the Caribbean. The infamous slave trade in Nigeria is not known to many people like the slave trade in Ghana, Senegal, Togo and Benin. Nigeria and Ghana were former British colonies. Senegal, Togo and Benin were former French colonies.

In December 2000, I attended the Fourth Eco-tourism Symposium in Nigeria as a delegate of the Africa Travel Association. The Lagos State Waterfront and Tourism Development Corporation invited conference delegates to a two-day pre-symposium tour of Lagos States. On the first day, we toured the city of Lagos. On the second day, we toured the town of Badagry and learned that Badagry was an important slave route in West Africa. Badagry is one of five divisions created in Lagos State in l968.

This ancient town of Badagry was founded around l425 A.D. Before its existence, people lived along the Coast of Gberefu and this area later gave birth to the town of Badagry. It is the second largest commercial town in Lagos State, located an hour from Lagos and half hour from the Republic du Benin. The Town of Badgry is bordered on the south by the Gulf of Guinea and surrounded by creeks, islands and a lake. The ancient town served mainly the Oyo Empire which was comprised of Yoruba and Ogu people. Today, the Aworis and Egun are mainly the people who reside in the town of Badagry as well as in Ogun State in Nigeria and in the neighboring Republic du Benin.
Slave Trade Route

In the early 1500's, slaves were transported from West Africa to America through Badagry. It is reported that Badagry exported no fewer than 550,000 African slaves to America during the period of the American Independence in l787. In addition, slaves were transported to Europe, South America and the Caribbean. The slaves came mainly from West Africa and the neighboring countries of Benin and Togo as well as others parts of Nigeria. The slave trade became the major source of income for the Europeans in Badagry.

Today, Badagry is an historic site because of the significant role it played as a major slave port in Nigeria. The town of Badagry is promoting an African Heritage Festival in May, 2001 to enlighten the world to its historic sites, landscapes, cultural artifacts and relics of human slavery. Badagry wants to share this world heritage site with others. They are preserving buildings, sites and memories of this iniquitous period so those tourists can unearth the dark impact of this era. Places of interest include the Palace of the Akran of Badagry and its mini ethnographic museum, the early missionaries cemetery, the District Officer's Office and Residence, the First Storey Building in Nigeria constructed by the Anglican missionaries, relics of slave chains in the mini museum of slave trade, cannons of war, the Vlekte slave Market, and the Slave Port established for the shipment of slaves before the l6th century.

The Lagos State Waterfront and Tourism Development Corporation is sponsoring the African Heritage Festival, May 2001, in collaboration with Nigerian Tourist Development Corporation, Badagry Local Government and some NGOs. Chief Moses Hungbo Owolabani is the Executive Chairman of Badagry Local Government Council. The tentative program of events encompasses initiation into Nigerian tribes, boat regatta, educational and economic forums, music and dance festivals, and numerous recreational activities and picnicking on miles of beach front property. (source: Africa Travel Magazine)

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