Badagry, a coastal town in the suburb of Lagos plays 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 who want to experience the history of the slave trade.
Here are eight things about Badagry you may wish to know before you visit:
1. Badagry, a coastal town by the Lagoon, was established in 15th Century. The name Badagry was said to have been evolved from the dual corruption of Agbedegreme (which means Agbedeh’s farm in “Ogu” language) to Agbedagari and Agbedagari to Badagry by Yoruba settlers and European slave traders respectively. Agbedeh was the famous farmer who founded the town.
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2. Badagry is a few kilometers from Seme, a border town to Republic of Benin, and officially generates the highest Nigeria Customs duties income till date. This official estimate, of course, notably excludes car and frozen food smuggling. But before the slave trade era, it was a place of subsistence farming and fishing, due to its proximity to the ocean.
3. If fishing and accessibility to the ocean was a blessing, it was also a curse. Badagry was the key port for export of African slaves to the Americas. Till date, there is a small museum in the building of the first Christian mission that showcases the manacles and other relics of the hugely lucrative and barbaric trade in humans.
4. Badagry has a place as one of the “firsts” in Nigeria’s colonial history. The first primary school—St Thomas Primary School—was established in 1845. The town was annexed by the United Kingdom and incorporated into the Lagos colony in 1863. It became one with Nigeria in 1901.
5. The Agia Tree was the first place Christianity was preached by Rev. Birch Freeman of Methodist Church. The local myth is that it is a place for saying answered prayers.
6. Badagry locals, comprising of the Aworis, Egun, Yoruba and Ogu people, are known for their hospitable disposition and their famous snack, Ajogun, made from cassava, best enjoyed with coconut water sucked from a straw plunged deep into the coconut.
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7. The title of Badagry’s royal father is Oba Akran, a kingship so influential that one of longest commercial avenues (a 2.14kilometere stretch) in Ikeja, Oba Akran Avenue, was named after it.
8. Reverend Henry Townsend erected Nigerian’s first storey building in Badagry in 1845. The building was also occupied by the returnee slave, Samuel Ajayi Crowther, the first African C.M.S Bishop who translated the Holy Bible to Yoruba.