Tuesday, 26 January 2016

BADAGRY: A GIMPSE OF LAGOS' TOURIST SITE

A tour of the Slave Museum in Badagry shows the shackles the Africans were forced to wear around their necks, chained to the person in front and behind who wore similar devices on their necks. The slaves were brought to Badagry from inland and sold to the French, the British, the Dutch and the Portuguese. Each country had it's own sector of Badagry where it kept goods for trading with local African slave catchers, and where it held those enslaved until the ship arrived.  The slave trade started here in the 1400, but the peak of operations was in the 1770s.
From the 1840s, following the suppression of the slave trade, Badagry declined significantly, but became a major site of Christian mission work. Christianity (as a religion of the so-called white) was first preached in Nigeria at Badagry in 1842 by Rev Bernard Freeman and he celebrated the first Christmas in Nigeria the following year. The site where Christianity was first preached then is now the "Agiya Tree Monument" beside the Badagry Town Hall.
The people of Badagry are OGU commonly referred to as "Egun" and speak Ogugbe(Ogu) language. They are hardworking, full of courage and pain-staking people from; four main stock-namely Whedahs, the Whemes and the Ga/Ewej Ajah respectively. The Yoruba traders and adventurers from the Hinterland later settled in and around Badagry and its environs. About seven decades ago, a group of Hinerant fishermen from the riverine areas of the hinterland-mostly the Lajes, moved into Badagry area and were allowed to fish on the waters and generously accommodated on the riversides.
The "Ogu" people have their family and friends in the Republic of Benin; former Dahomeh, today's Ghana; former Old Coast and the Republic of Togo and in Egbado South area of Ogun state in Nigeria. Many European traders, missionaries, explorers as well as other people of African origin and those within the Country, mainly those from neighbouring Dahomey, Abeokuta, the Egbado area of today's Ogun state and of course, those from Lagos ere attracted into Badagry.
The People of Badagry were noted for their hospitable ways and always resisted attacks from the neighboring Dahomeans(who envied their economic growth and potentials). Traditionally, the occupations of the people are chiefly fishing, farming and animal husbandry.
Cottage industries which from time past engaged the attention of the people ranged from boat building, net making, bamboo furniture industry, food processing mills and raffia works, wine tapping and traditional house building. A salt refining cottage industry flourished at Gberefu on Badagry Island around 1560. Handicrafts such as pottery, mat and basket weaving are most common among the people.
Fishing is carried out along the coast and in the lagoons and creeks. The main catches are the saw fish, tarpon and shark. Due to its nutritional value and economic advantage, the state Government through the State Agricultural Development Project(ADP) constructed a 1.6 hectare fish at Alakotomeji with a supply of 200,000 young fishes for positive breeding.
Through organized and effective security forces, whose superior method of fighting became visible during the raids in the seventeenth century.
Despite their early intercourse with Christianity, traditional religion is very strong in Badagry and its surrounding villages and towns with disciples worshipping regularly at the various temples. In "Ogu" language , God is "Jiwheyewhe" "Mawu-ose" the traditional religious groups communicate with the Supreme Being through lesser gods such as Ogun(god of iron) and hevioso (god of thunder). Apart from the traditional religion, Christianity progressed and became a very important part of the people's culture. The history of Badagry will not be complete without the early history of Christianity in Nigeria.
Islam was also accepted by some of the people.
The first Nigerian storey building was erected by the Reverend Henry Townsend of the church missionary society(CMS) on the Marina in Badagry in 1845. The building which later served as an official residence for St. Thomas Anglican church, Badagry was also used by Samuel Ajayi Crowther, the first African C.M.S Bishop when he undertook the translation of the Holy Bible from English to Yoruba.
Originally built of coconut fibers and located on an area of 1,144 square feet, the more than a century and half old building was recently given a face lift to further preserve it for generations yet unborn. Another place of interest is the Badagry Beach, with its impressive palm trees and wind-blown surf is one of the most beautiful spots in Nigeria.
The people of Badagry are very cultural too. Annually, on the third week in August, hundreds of thousands of people come together at Badagry, Lagos to be part of the action that is The Great Badagry Festival.

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