Places · Weekend Vibes

Weekend Vibes: The Badagry Slave Port

I like to think of myself as someone who wants to see the world, who wants to travel around the world and enjoy, learn through pictures, sights and stories and basically try to relive memories in words and pictures shared to other people. Currently, I’m still very far behind but still I’m eager to learn and I’m starting up with my small Lagos – my very small happening city of Lagos. These were things I thought of on my way to the ancient city of Badagry last Saturday.

Badagry, according to the information on Google has over 200,000 inhabitants (which to me is very high). We went somewhere around Seme, past the Suntan Beach to see a close friend first before returning to Badagry. It looked like a village where everyone knew each other, where news would spread like wildfire, where people could fight one minute and share a fruit next minute. It had this serene feel to it, and I thoroughly enjoyed this.

Badagry Heritage Museum

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Our first point of action was the Badagry Heritage Museum built in 1863.

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The museum is open between 9 am and 5 pm daily and houses a lot of paintings, sculpture, pictures and monuments from the slave trade.

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I saw the shackles the slaves had to deal with, ranging from the leg chains to the hand chains and even some for the mouth.

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We were allowed to touch some of these and they were heavy. One thing that attracted me was the advertisement for sale of slaves.

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According to the tour guide, 300 slaves were taken every market day (once in five days) in Lagos and 100 slaves in Calabar. So these able bodied men and women (or Negroes as they were called) were advertised via posters for sale. The ones with extra abilities had them indicated and were sold at more expensive rates. Another thing also that made me feel bad was the branding of these slaves before shipping.

These slaves were branded names of their masters with red hot items which must have hurt. We also saw the drinking gourd where these slaves had to drink water with hands chained and heads bent into the gourd.

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Then looking at this, the slaves were packed in the lower deck of the ship sandwiched amongst each other.

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The ones who decided to run away were either bitten by dogs or hung.

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These slaves were mostly shipped to Brazil and hence, led to the integration of culture. (Yemanja/Yemoja).

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The First Storey Building in Nigeria

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From the heritage museum, we moved to the first storey building in Nigeria built in 1845. We saw the materials used in building and the tour guide was so good enough to show us how strong these materials imported looked, holding side by side, the ones we use in building today and clearly we could see the difference.

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Then, we saw a picture of the Agia tree, which used to be the meeting point for dispersion of the gospel by the missionaries when they came.

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Then, there’s this picture of the first Christmas celebrated in 1923 and according to him, even though Christianity had come in by then, you can see clearly that the blacks were still slaves without oppression to the whites.

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The Agia tree, which fell on its own one night, was replaced with a monument (which we later went to see). Notable pictures we saw included:

Claudius Philips – who was the first teacher

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Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther – who translated the English bible to Yoruba

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Henry Townsend – who sowed the seed of Christianity in Badagry

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Thomas Birch Freeman – who sowed the seed of Christianity in Badagry

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G.A Gollmer – who built the house at Badagry

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We also saw other things of interest at the first storey building such as this chair which has been there since 1915, still very strong and good as well as this bible room and the safe where collections from Sunday were kept.

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From our view, we could see the residential home of Fredrick Lord Lugard which I think was really beautiful.

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When we got downstairs, we saw the rear view of the house and the well, which supposedly has the cleanest water in the whole of Badagry – neatest, odorless and suitable for drinking at the point.

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More pictures from the building!

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Offering Box
Offering Box
Bible translated to Yoruba
Bible translated to Yoruba

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Staircase leading upstairs
Staircase leading upstairs

Mobee Slave Museum

We went to the Mobee Slave Museum, much smaller than the other museum but had quite a lot inside. There, our tour guide told us the story of Sunbu Mobee of Badagry who didn’t like the idea of the slave trade, but had to live with it as he could do nothing.

Here's his grave
Here’s his grave

There were also quite a number of pictures, paintings and sculpture, most of them things we saw at the other museum.

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Notable of these is this wall carving of a castrated slave begging for forgiveness and this other one outside the museum of slaves chained with these heavy metals and working.

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Point of No Return

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On our way to the Point of No Return, we went past the barroom where these slaves used to be kept before shipped to Brazil or whatever part of the world they were going to. There were canoes at the river bank to transport people from the other end of Badagry to the point of no Return.

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Now this was one of the highlights of my trip. I wore a life jacket and hopped on to the canoe.

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It was a short journey; say ten minutes and we soon got to the other side welcomed by a white stairway kind of entrance. We met some craftsmen who had a small market there, and then moved on to the slave route.

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According to our tour guide, it was called ‘The Point of No Return’ because when the slaves got there, there was no going back.

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They would most definitely be shipped or kept in other places around – but never going back to the barroom. The view was beautiful, with tall palm trees under the scorching sun.

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Then, traveler’s delight happened and I saw this cute calf and his mother. (I took a shot for you all).

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We came across the attenuation well.

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According to our guide, there was something in the water from the well that was given to the slaves to make them lose their memory and become less arrogant to their master. Now because none of them went back, they couldn’t tell their fellow slaves and know that most times, these slaves must be hungry and thirsty and would take this as an act of gratitude. After walking for a long while, we came across the last wall signal and we could see the water.

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Then we relaxed at one of the beach huts, had food and drinks, played some board games and played some beach soccer. After about three hours, we then made the journey back – we had come to the island of no Return and we had returned!

I hope I get to visit another place before the year ends. I have my eyes on Ake and Calabar for the book festival and the Christmas festival this year!

Until then,

Peace and Love,

Frank.

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