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A Royal Visit To The Yoruba 18th Century Slave Port

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Badagry like probably all the coastal west African towns was a key link in the slave trade chain. Earlier this year the Ooni visited the Yoruba whose ancestors were enslaved and taken to America, and yesterday  he visited Badagry the port in Yorubaland where many were shipped from. May Olodumare heal all wounds.

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. Badagry is a monarchy headed by the Wheno Aholuship, a kingship head 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 site of Christian mission work. Christianity (as a religion of the so-called white) 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 is now the “Agiya Tree Monument” beside the Badagry Town Hall. – Wikipedia



Arrival of Kabiyesi


Badagry welcomes Oonirisa

Solemn stop at the Mobee Badagry Slave Museum


Photo & video credits : Tunde Alabi Hundeyin Dudu

Evil Badagry…

Any mention of Badagry calls up slave trade references. So were the people of Badagry slave traders? Did they go about catching people and selling them? Or were they more like ‘workers’ in the ‘ slave trade factory’  i.e. receiving payment for rowing laden canoes out to the waiting ships, guarding  captives etc. I think the latter because I haven’t come across any account of  any formidable Badagry army / bitter war/ cavalry/ cult etc which would have been necessary to capture the over 500,000 people  shipped out from the Badagry slave port.

Before the slave trade , they were subsistence fishermen and farmers, so no great wealth really, for purchasing slaves from inland slave traders. So what Badagry would have provided is a ‘holding point’ and ‘delivery services’?

With powerful pressure from the inland sellers of slaves for a drop off point, and the equally(?) powerful pressures from the coast line buyers of slaves for a pick up point  , I guess, where I am going with this is,  how much choice would the people of Badagry at the time have had in the establishing of their town as a major slave port? Were they evil? Helpless? Greedy? scared? or caught between the devil and the deep blue sea?


Ps/  whenever I make slavery related posts, I try to be sensitive as its a delicate and painful subject so apologies in advance if I’ve touched any nerves. On any point disagreed with, please feel free to leave a comment.



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