Founded in the early 15th century on a lagoon off the Gulf of Guinea, its protected harbour led to the town becoming a key port in the export of slaves to the Americas, which were mainly to Salvador, Bahia in Brazil. From the 1840s, following the suppression of the slave trade, Badagry declined significantly, but became a major site of Christian mission work. In 1863, the town was annexed by the United Kingdom and incorporated into the Lagos colony. In 1901, it became a part of Nigeria. Badagry subsists largely on fishing and agriculture,and maintains a small museum of slavery.
This is the first storey building in Nigeria, overlooking the Marina waterfront. It was built in 1842 by the missionaries.
The Badagry Black Heritage Museum housed in the former district officer’s office built in 1863, holds hundreds of artifacts and historical relics that chronicle more than 300 years of the movement of slaves through Lagos. From the early 1500s, Badagry was one of many trading and transport areas in West Africa for slaves being shipped off to America—it is estimated that roughly 550,000 African slaves passed through this area.
Europeans brought some education and religion, but with that came the price of slavery. In the 1600s slaves began to be traded with Europeans by local Africans for European goods.
The man above was the last slave trader who lived in the late 19th century.
This photo is of a printed photo taken in the 19th century of a Nigerian slave. I was told that local Nigerians from what is now Badagry would travel north of here and capture men and women from rival tribes. Then they were brought to the coast and kept in confinement for up to several months in horrible conditions until Europeans arrived to purchase them.
The far majority of the slaves leaving from this port were bound for Brazil and South America, but some were sent to the Caribbean as well as America.
The baracoon is the Portuguese word for slave cell. I visited one of them were over 40 people were kept in a tiny room. Only a small window allowed for ventilation and many died while waiting.
The next two photos show some of the goods that were traded with Europeans. The two cannons for example resulted in 200 lives being sent to the new world. I asked the Nigerian who was showing me the town if people here had any animosity towards the Americas or Europeans about slavery. He told me that most people here were family of the slave traders and therefore their ancestors had gotten rich from the slave trade and had as much blame as the west did.
When the slave ships finally did arrive the slaves were put into the trade port for the actual negotiations. From here they had to cross in small boats across the channel to a small barrier island. I took a motor boat to get to the other island. While on the other side a man getting out of another boat slipped off the dock and fell neck deep into the water. I was tempted to take his photograph but he was already in a bad enough mood.
On the barrier island is a trail over a mile in length where slaves were forced to march to the coast. About halfway through the trail I came across two interesting places.
The mounds are graves from slaves who passed away while in captivity or even on the short trek to the coast. There seemed to be about a dozen or so graves that were visible here. Maybe more were in the distant fields or some weren’t visible anymore after centuries. For those that were still living, their life was essentially over as well.
The photos in Badagry aren’t beautiful or scenic, but they are some of the most important historical places in the world. The well was were all slaves were forced to drink. A voodoo spell was done to the well that was supposed to erase their memory so that when they became a slave in the new world they would have no knowledge or sadness about missing their former life.
In Benin I know of a similar process where slaves had to circle around a tree several times. Most slaves from Benin went to Haiti and other parts of the Caribbean.
At the end of the trail the slaves reached the “Point of No Return”. The palm trees and these sandy beaches would be the last thing they would ever see from their homeland. Most slaves from Badagry ended up working in the sugar plantations of Brazil.
Culled- Travel the Whole World.