By Benjamin Omoike
Lagos State Government has joined residents of Badagry Local Government Area of the state and the entire black race to celebrate the annual ‘International Day for Remembrance of Slave Trade and its Abolition’, with a promise to reconstruct all monuments of the slave trade routes in Badagry, to boost tourism and investment in the ancient town.
Speaking about the 21st anniversary, Special Adviser to the Governor on Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mr. Solomon Bonu, said UNESCO set aside August 23 every year as remembrance day for the abolition of slave trade in Africa.
He expressed hope that the annual event will further foster unity among the black race globally, pointing out that the celebration also serves as an avenue to invite all blacks in the world to visit Badagry, being one of the major slave routes in Africa.
Bonu disclosed that plans are already in place to build a Diaspora Village in Badagry to serve as a resettlement village for the black race all over the world, adding that all monuments along the slave routes in Badagry will be reconstructed, including ‘Point of No Return’, ‘Slave’s Spirit Attenuation’ and ‘Slave Market’, among others.
In his words, “Just of recent, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu approved the reconstruction of the Agia Tree in Badagry, where Christianity was first preached in Nigeria and the First Christmas held. The process of mobilising the contractor to site has already started.”
According to him, there are several other plans aimed at repositioning Badagry to take its rightful position as tourism and culture destination in Africa and also increase investment within the ancient town.
The Special Adviser stated that although this year’s celebration has been hampered by the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic, the event would still hold on a low-key amidst strict observance of all health safety protocols.
Giving a background to the annual celebration, the President of Tourism, Arts and Culture Network, TACNET, Badagry, Prince Yomi Semedeton Ajose, said that the Lagos State Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture had always promoted the celebration through collaboration with Badagry community.
“This year’s event was designed to last for three days starting from Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd of August, 2020 with events ranging from inter-denominational services to offer prayers for reconciliation and rehabilitation, virtual conferences, candlelight procession, drama presentation, lectures and cultural display among others,” Ajose said.
He added that the theme for the 2020 Remembrance of the Abolition of Slave Trade in Africa is “Family Réunion”, which according to him, is aimed at fostering unity among Africans all over the world because “the blood that unites us is deeper than the ocean that separates us.”
The President of TACNET commended the move by the Lagos State Government to revive some dilapidated monuments in Badagry, which he said will encourage the black race in the diaspora to trace their routes back to Badagry and also explore investment opportunities in Lagos State.