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Badagry, Nigeria
Their History in the Atlantic Slave Trade

Nothing on this page, photos or content, may be used without specific written permission.
© Copyright 2008, Joel A. Freeman, Ph.D. All rights reserved.

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  During my visit to Nigeria in December, 2001 I 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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

  The town of Badagry wants 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.

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  I will now quote from a booklet entitled  "History of the Mobee Family of Badagry and Their Involvement in the Slave Trade", Olusegun Mobee. I bought this booklet during my visit to Badagry. 

  In the 24-page booklet Mr. Mobee states, "Slaves were never captured in Badagry...As a matter of fact, then, slavery was recognized institution all over the world. Slaves were employed by Kings, Chiefs, and wealthy people in their houses as domestic servants. A man's economic and social status were assessed by the number of slaves he possessed. This type of slavery was known as domestic slavery. Usually, many of these slaves were captives of war. But many of the slave owners on learning that European slave merchants were besieging Badagry with goods such as iron bars, cotton, wool, linen, whiskey, gin, metal wares, and assorted wines in exchange for slaves, wasted no time to bring their domestic slaves to Badagry with the hope of exchanging them for the listed items. It was confessed that the prospects of Trans Atlantic Slave Trade fueled into tribal wars in Yorubaland as the kings and slaves who had taken part of the European slave merchants' offer, went all out to wage war on the other towns and villages with the sole aim of getting slaves to be exchanged for wine and guns."


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The holding cell for men, used just prior to sending the men off to the boat.

A plaque officially commissioning the Badagry Slave Route Project
May 18, 1999
Click on each image to view a larger picture.

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The slave market at Posuko was the main center of the Slave Trade

This is the point from which the slaves were transported across the water to the "Point of No Return".

The "Point of No Return is across the water, just to the right of the boat.

Slavery was abolished in 1886. This cannon was used to enforce the law.
Today, Badagry is an historic site because of the significant role it played as a major slave port in Nigeria.
Another view of the wharf, from which the slaves left for points unknown.

Entry way to the wharf.

Joel Freeman, with William Kumuyi, facilitating a meeting for 250 government and business leaders.

Dr. Freeman with slave chains around neck. This was an emotional experience.

Dr. Freeman speaking to well over 45,000 people, through 18 interpreters.

Another cannon used to enforce the abolition of slavery, aimed at the "Point of No Return".

Two men who are part of the court of the King of Badagry.

Thomas Freeman, a mulatto, was the first missionary from England to Nigeria.

Freeman Memorial Methodist Cathedral

First Storey building in Nigeria.

First copy of the Bible translated into Yoruba language by Rev. Gollmer.

The King of Badagry, Nigeria.

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The Freeman Institute Black History Collection

 

               The ever-expanding Collection has items such as:
  1. Authentic, priceless slave ball, with handle (50 lb.) -- #3 written on it, for "trouble-makers", manufactured late 1600s -- used on the London-based slave ship, Henrietta Marie, the oldest identifiable slave ship wreck in the world (summer, 1700) ; featured in National Geographic's (August, 2002).   By one estimate Henrietta Marie’s cargo grossed well over £3,000 (more than $400,000 today) for the ship’s investors. Most of the captives were headed for sugar plantations where they’d be worked to exhaustion, many dying within five to ten years. Sturdy and fast, The Henrietta Marie traveled the infamous triangular trade route favored by the slavers - from England to the Guinea coast, to the Americas, then home again. Accounts relating to the Henrietta Marie’s voyages were uncovered, as were the names of her investors, captains, and wills of some of her crew members. Artifacts found at the site proved particularly helpful in creating a picture of shipboard life and the practices of the slave trade.
  2. Two Wedgwood jasperware black on white Anti-Slavery medallions, with the bound slave on the front, and the words "Am I Not A Man and A Brother?" around it.  Also, a rare 1800s antique bronze figure of man (6" high, weighs 18 oz.) pictured in medallion.
  3. One-of-a-kind signed letters/albums/contracts/sheet music from Nat King Cole, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Louis Armstrong, B. B. King, Ethel Waters, Pearl Bailey, Miles Davis, Fats Domino, Quincy Jones, Earl Hines, Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis, Jr., Grover Washington, Jr., Count Basie, Mills Brothers, Ozzie Davis, Lena Horne, Four Tops, Cicely Tyson, James Brown, Charlie Pride, Bo Diddley, Bobby Blue and others...
  4. A rare 1838 (third edition) copy of Phillis Wheatley's book, "Memoir and Poems of Phillis Wheatley, A Native African and a Slave" -- Includes memoir, George Washington's letter to Wheatley, preface by John Wheatley, plus poems by another slave, George Moses Horton, with introduction and letters. And also the 1773 edition of the Gentleman's Magazine -- first published mention of Phillis Wheatley's book, first printed in the UK, paid for by the Countess of Huntingdon.
  5. Silver Civil War locket (1860s), containing two tin-type pictures of African American women, worn by an African American soldier.
  6. The Rosetta Stone, a First Edition 55-page article
in Archaeologia: Miscellaneous Tracts Relating to Antiquity, Volume XVI, published by The Society of Antiquaries of London. 1812. Some of the first published articles about the Rosetta Stone. This is historic in light of the fact that the code to Hieroglyphics wasn't cracked until 1822 by Jean Champollion.
  7. Riggs Bank check written and signed on July 3, 1907 by Judson W. Lyons, ex-slave from Georgia and first African-American lawyer to practice in the state of Georgia. He was appointed Register of the US Treasury from 1898-1906 and as such, his signature appeared on US currency issued during those years.
  8. 1820s "T Porter" slave button (from Antigua, British West Indies), used to identify the owner of a slave.

  9. Click Here to view more items and images...

Courtesy of The Freeman Institute

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