Sunday, September 13, 2009

The 182nd good thing about Lagos: A chance to learn about the area's history of slave trading in our visit to Badagry

On our last morning in Badagry, we left our resort for a walking tour of historical Badagry, taking a little road from our resort, which was outside the city center.
We passed some cultivated fields, where they were growing tomatoes, corn and cassava.

It was a short walk to the Badagry Heritage museum. There were women gathering water at the well in front of the museum. The museum had some artifacts and photos and told the story of the history of Badagry as a slave port, which began in 1473 with Portuguese slave traders, but grew within a century to collect slaves that would go to other European countries. Our guide had written a guidebook to Badagry and his book says that "the slave trade flourished in Badagry until March 8, 1852, when the Badagry Chiefs signed the abolition treaties with the Queen of England," but the slave trade actually "continued until 1888 when the last slave ship left for Brazil."

We continued our walk into town where we passed people going about their Sunday morning activities.

We visited this square which marked the spot where a tree used to stand under which Christianity was first preached in Nigeria. The guidebook says that in 1842 missionaries from Sierra Leone arrived, having been invited by a resident with the approval of the King of Badagry. "The first sermon of Christianity was first preached that day under the famous Agia Tree which fell in 1959 at over 300 years of age."

Next to this square stood an interesting building which looks like a Christian church, but is actually the Badagry Central Mosque. It was built around 1877 and is one of the few buildings of Brazilian-influenced architectural designs still standing in the city.

More scenes from the street -- kids are always ready to clown around for the camera.

I thought this street sign was pretty interesting -- a street sign in a small town in Nigeria is unusual in itself, but this one not only directed you to the palace, but also to "California Way" and had an accurate time clock on top!

We visited this square which at one time served as the slave market. It was one of the oldest slave markets in West Africa, opened in 1502. Our guide said that on a normal day during the height of the slave trade, 300 slaves would have been sold here. Over the centuries, millions of Africans have been sold here.

We then walked down to the waterfront to visit the slave port.

We got on a large pirogue and crossed the creek to get to the peninsula which borders the Atlantic coastline.

We then had a hike along the slave route across this narrow peninsula that the slaves would have walked to get to the ships taking them away from their African homes.

Here our guide showed us a cistern which the traders would have the slaves drink. It was referred to as a "sacred well" because it was believed to make the slaves less aggressive and to lose the memories of their homes. He surmised that the traders had put some drug in the water to make the slaves docile.

After about a 15 minute walk, we reached the "point of no return," which is now marked with a monument. Slaves waited here to board ships which were moored about a kilometer away in the ocean. Our guide said that many Africans died here just waiting for their turn to board the ships. It was kind of sobering to be there at this area's own "trail of tears."

After a brief rest by the ocean, we walked back across the peninsula and returned to our pirogue for the return trip across the creek. A friend took this picture of us at the crossing -- and he actually even got a smile from Brent!

Before we left Badagry, we had a visit to one more chief in his palace -- more gifts to offer and welcomes to receive.

This chief recognized the woman in our group who joined the dancing at Friday's festivities and had some fun mimicking her dance moves.

This chief insisted that we visit his family's private slave museum, which had its own set of slave chains and other relics from the age of slave trading.

On the ride back to our hotel, we passed the building which is the first "storey" building built in Nigeria. The building was built as a vicarage and completed in 1845. The guidebook says that the foundation was laid 3 years prior, which is the same year that Christianity was preached. So those Christian missionaries must have got down to business very quickly and planned on staying awhile! The English Bible was translated into Yoruba in this house in 1846.

Just after mid-day, we boarded the speedboats for our 1 1/2 hour trip back to Lagos. I was so glad we were able to take this trip and get a look at a different part of Nigeria with an interesting and tragic history.


Erin said...

That is a really great picture of you and Brent... I'm thinking "christmas card"!!! Looks like you are enjoying Nigeria. See you in a couple months.... and yes your grandchildren are still asking about you daily.

Rachel said...

I love that photo of you two. You guys look great.