The Badagry Heritage Museum remains one of Badagry’s finest edifices with an exquisite western architectural design which is over 150 years old. The One-Storey Building has the most comprehensive collections of the transatlantic slave trade within Badagry and its environs. The Museum was established to conserve the history of Badagry and educate the general public on her involvement to the sale and transportation of enslaved Africans.
Here are 5 interesting facts to help you know more about the Museum:
1. FORMER DISTRICT OFFICE DURING THE BRITISH COLONIAL RULE IN NIGERIA
The Badagry Heritage Museum, constructed in 1863, was the then District Officer’s Office, which was an administrative block of the British Government in Badagry District under the Southern Protectorate. Henry F. Pilkington. esq was the first district officer to be posted at the site in 1865.
The British officials, who administered at the site, evacuated the structure in 1958, two years before Nigeria gained her independence. They lived in a storey building along the Badagry Marina which is reputedly known as the District Officers’ Residence (D.O.R), constructed around 1870 and Thomas R.J Tickel was the First District Officer to lodge in the building. Today, the District Officer’s Residence stands as one of the notable tourist attractions in Badagry.
2.THE MUSEUM IS BEING MANAGED BY THE LAGOS STATE GOVERNMENT
The Badagry Heritage Museum is currently being managed by the Lagos Sate Government under the auspices of the Lagos State Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture. It was commissioned by Governor Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu on the 22 of August, 2002.
The Staff strength of the Museum comprises of 5 team members which includes Mr. Peter Olaide – Mesewaku, whom is the Curator at the site. It is interesting to note that the museum provides adequate interpretation with good tour guiding skills from the museum attendants and this makes every visit to the site interesting and educative.
3. A MUSEUM OF SLAVE TRADE
The museum’s central theme is on the transatlantic slave trade thus revealing the capture and torture of Africans, exchange process, Middle Passage, popular slave merchants, slave categories, plantations and its abolition. The museum generally contributes more to the information of slave trade in Nigeria and around the globe.
In contrast to other slave museums in Nigeria, the Badagry Heritage Museum shares similar attributes with the Slave History Museum at Calabar, Cross River State, of which both museums once functioned as administrative blocks of the British Government.
4. MIND-BLOWING GALLERIES, EXHIBITS & COLLECTIONS
The Museum has been structured into 9 Galleries. These include; Introduction, Capture, Facilitators, Equipment, Resistance & Punishment, Industry, Integration, Abolitionist and Badagry gallery. There are quite a good collection of exhibits in these galleries which further equip and provide authenticity to the museum. There are mind-blowing pictures, text labels, artworks and artefacts that depicts era of the transatlantic slave trade from 16th Century BC to 19th Century.
Introduction Gallery: This gallery gives an introduction of the transatlantic slave trade with photographs revealing the migration of Africans from the Old World to the New World and its effects. Exhibits at the Introduction gallery include the statue of a liberated slave which is very symbolic. No doubt, this exhibit serves as a reminder of the abolition of slave trade or freedom of enslaved Africans. Also at the Introduction Gallery, there is a huge replicated medallion of a chained slave, made up of fiber, with an inscription stating “Am I not a Man and a Brother”. History thus reveals that the medallion was actually designed by an abolitionist named Josiah Wedgwood in 1787 as part of an anti-slavery campaign in Britain. Josiah Wedgwood happens to be the grandfather of the famous Evolutionist, Charles Darwin.
Capture Gallery: This Gallery reveals how African slaves were been procured, exchanged, branded and kept in slave cells called “Baracoons”. Also, there are photographs of how slave were advertised and raffled to the general public. Exhibits that can be found in this gallery include the neck chain, mouth clips, etc.
Facilitators Gallery: This Gallery reveals partakers of the illicit trade. Notable white business men and African dealers who engaged in the illicit trade include John Hawking, Humphrey Maurice, Henry the Navigator, Chief Seriki Williams Abass among others. This gallery shows the contributions of the middle men in the trade who procured and traded slaves to Europeans and reveals popular destinations were slaves were transported to.
Equipment Gallery: This Gallery reveals the vessels, equipment and materials being used during this era. The Equipment Gallery has one of the finest artwork in the museum which is a miniature of a slave ship. Other exhibit includes a large slave drinking pot and a corroded metal recovered from the slave port (Jetty) within Badagry. Aside these exhibits on slave trade, there is an installed safe used by the British Officials who occupied the building during the colonial era. However, the safe has been locked for a very long time.
Resistance & Punishment Gallery: This gallery gives an insight on the various ways at which slaves were being tortured, punished and how they revolted in different destination. Exhibit in this gallery include a statue of runaway slave being bitten by a dog.
Industry Gallery: This gallery enlightens visitors on different plantations were slaves were assigned to work. There are two types of slaves which include; the domestic and field slave. Within this gallery can be found an artwork of a slave couple.
Integration Gallery: This gallery emphasizes on the cultural effects of the transatlantic trade as cultural practices, beliefs and ideas were been shared between Nigeria and Brazil. Cultural practices of the Yoruba tribe of Nigeria were taken to Brazil as a result of the illicit trade. Likewise cultural practices in Brazil especially her architectural design were introduced in Nigeria. Slaves, no doubt, were given foreign names by their masters and returnees and their descendant still bear such names. Photographs of returnees can be found within this gallery such Da Silva and Da Roachas.
Abolitionist Gallery: This gallery is well equipped with photographs of popular slave trade abolitionist around the globe such as Booker T. Washington, Granville Sharpe, William Wilberforce, Fredrick Douglas, Marcus Garvey, and Harriett Tubman. In this gallery, the tourist guide will keep you informed on notable dates of which slave trade was abolished in different destinations. In Badagry, slave trade was abolished in 1852 with the agreement made between the British government and the Badagry Chiefs.
Badagry Gallery: The Badagry gallery gives detailed information about Badagry right from the pre-colonial to the post-colonial era. The pre-colonial era includes her involvement in the transatlantic slave trade. There is an ancient map of Badagry revealing how the Europeans dominated some quarters in Badagry during the era of the transatlantic slave trade in this gallery. Exhibits in this gallery show the rich culture of the Badagry People which includes Koori and Zangbeto Masquerade (Miniature).
Aside these Galleries, the Museum has a balcony which provides a scenic view of the lagoon and the Gberefu Peninsular (Point of No Return).
5. NOTABLE VISITORS AT THE SITE
The Museum has received the valued presence and attention of prominent personalities such as Malon Jackson, Segun Arinze, Professor Wole Soyinka, Babatunde Fasola S.A.N, Evander Holyfield, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Professor Asiwaju, among others.
Aside this, the Museum accounts for the influx of excursionists especially school pupils and students during the peak season coupled with both religious and secular groups. The Museum is indeed open for all.
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