By Elizabeth Uwandu & Onyinyechi Onyekwe
BADAGRY, a coastal town in the suburb of Lagos played a major role in the history of the contact between Nigeria, Europe and the Americas, It was a major slave outpost and market during the centuries of slave trade. Now Badagry is a thriving tourism site that attracts people of African descent from all over the world, but many do not know much about this ancient city. It was the need to explore and educate some culture writers that TravelNextDoor went there.
The leader of the team and the founder, TravelNextDoor, Pelu Awofeso, a tourism journalist with a team of about 40 companies in the tourism business during the visit stated that the often lack of appreciation of the dominant role Badagry town played in Nigeria independence and in Africa freedom from the claw of colonial imperialists, and the inability to appreciate our local heritage, prompted the visit.
The team were taken to various sites and some of the monumental structurse that defined Badagry. The participants could not help to feel ewe at the travails, pains and struggles of their forebears whose efforts culminated in the liberation of the black man race from slavery. Among significant persons whose role they wish Nigeria and the world should celebrate include King Jaja of Opobo, Bishop Ajayi Crowther among others.
Aside the above, the tourists called on government and key stakeholders to revamp and refashion historic sites in Badagry such as the first primary school in Nigeria and the first story building in Nigeria. Other sites they said should be well preserved to enable future generations understand the struggle of our forefathers in bringing freedom to Africa included: The point of no return insignia; makeshift Barracoon cells, etc. They also called for the completion of the Museum in the area in order for it to serve as a veritable attraction centre and as a means of revenue generation for the country.
Awofeso said “Despite, the huge role Badagry played in Nigeria independence and in Africa freedom from the claw of colonial imperialists, we are yet to fully tell the story of this town and also appreciate the splendor of one of Africa’s heritage.
“ So, sometime in August, I came up with the idea to take a tour to Badagry on October 1, to mark Nigeria’s 59th Independence as well as the 400th anniversary of slavery in Africa.
“I am a travel journalist who promotes domestic tourism and I run TravelNextDoor a tour company. So when the idea occurred to me, I decided to involve other travel practitioners in the project. The plan was that we collectively plan and sell a single destination on the same day, primarily to promote Badagry as a must-visit destination.
“So 40 companies (comprising tour operators, travel agencies, destination marketing companies and other relevant stakeholders) signed up to the project. And for five weeks, we all promoted the tour tagged “Badagry Independence Hangout” on our respective social media platforms.
“The result was the tour of October 1. One of our objectives was also to showcase Badagry, not just as a destination for slavery but also for its other interesting attractions, including its culture, its people, its food and its attractive beaches.
We’re all happy to have been able to achieve that feat and look forward to doing more projects like that in the near future to promote local tourist attractions.” he said.