Badagry was founded in the early 15th Century on a lagoon off the Gulf of Guinea, its protected harbor led to the town becoming a key port in the export of slaves to the Americas, which were mainly to Salvador, Bahia in Brazil.
It was also such a big departure point for slaves headed for French Saint-Domingue, known today as Haiti. It was so instrumental to the people of Haiti that a major god in the country’s official religion of Vodum is called Ogun-Badagri.
Badagry practices a monarchy system headed by the Wheno Aholuship – a kingship headed by the Akran of Badagry and his seven white cap high chiefs.
The white cap chiefs administer the eight quarters into which Badagry is divided; they include Ahovikoh, Boekoh, Jegba, Posukoh, Awhanjigo, Asago, Whalako and Ganho. These quarters and the families that ruled them played prominent roles in brokering slave trade with the Europeans and Brazilians.
From the 1840s, following the suppression of the slave trade, Badagry declined significantly but became a major destination for Christian mission work. Christianity was first preached in Nigeria at Badagry in 1842 by Rev. Thomas Birch Freeman and he celebrated the first Christmas in Nigeria the following year.
The site where Christianity was first preached then, under a large tree, is now a historical site and referred to as the ‘Agiya Tree Monument” beside the Badagry Town Hall.
In 1863, the town was annexed by the United Kingdom and incorporated into the Lagos colony.
In 1901, it became a part of Nigeria.
Today, Badagry has transformed from West Africa’s slave trade headquarters to a tourist haven.
Here are some tourist attractions in present-day Badagry.
- AGIA TREE: The Agia tree, which was the spot where Christianity was first preached in 1842, fell at the Market Street. You may not see the tree any longer but the exact spot where the tree was located can still be seen.
- SLAVE TRADE RELICS: The Mobee family who lived in Marina are the custodians of the slave trade relics which comprises of a large locks and shackles collection.
- VEREKETE SHRINE: it was in this shrine that Richard Lander was summoned before a priest for alleged espionage charges. He was forced to take poison, but he survived after drinking the portion. This proved his innocence.
- FIRST PAIR OF SATO DRUMS: In 1543, Tosavi and his son, Whensu from the Republic of Benin brought the drums to Akara Kunmo.
- THE FIRST STOREY BUILDING IN NIGERIA: Reverend Henry Townsend of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) was the man who built the first storey building in Nigeria in 1845. This building once served as the official residence for St. Thomas Anglican Church. It was at the said building that Samuel Ajayi Crowther translated the holy bible from English to Yoruba.
- THE SLAVE MUSEUM: The history of the slave trade in West Africa cannot be complete without making mention of Badagry. This is where you will find the world famous slave museum. There is hardly anything about slavery that is missing in this museum. It paints a clear picture of what happened in the region during the slave era.
- THE FIRST PRIMARY SCHOOL IN NIGERIA: St. Thomas Anglican Primary School was the first primary school to be established in 1845. Later, the first secondary school in the region, Badagry Grammar School was built in 1955.
Header Image Credit: Lonely Planet