The Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, inaugurated the renovated old Vlekete Slave Market and Museum in Badagry on Tuesday.
Speaking at the event, Sanwo-Olu said the tourist attraction housed collections of notable slave relics and useful information about transatlantic and trans-saharan slave marketing in Badagry.
The governor, represented by Ms Folashade Jaji, secretary to the government of Lagos State, said the museum is shedding more light on one of the darkest periods in human history, by teaching about the legacy left behind and displaying artifacts from the slave trade period.
He noted that the project was not to glorify the unpleasant trade, but to record the events of the past and teach younger generations the historical antecedents of different races, adding that it was also intended for Nigerians and Africans to see the to appreciate the continent’s collective history and culture. integration.
Sanwo-Olu explained that the project was well thought out as part of strategies to achieve the goals and objectives of the second ‘E’ pillar of the state’s THEME agenda, which stands for entertainment and tourism.
“The Slave Market Museum will be part of Badagry’s tourism development projects aimed at achieving the stated objective for its establishment in Lagos State.
“The museum also houses galleries such as slave relics and information about slavery.
“This includes: replica of the slave market; replica of slave punishment center showing the manner of treatment and inhumane punishment to which people marked as slaves were subjected as a result of their disobedience to their owners and the slave masters.
“There is also a replica of a slave tunnel where slaves were temporarily held after being captured before being shipped to their masters or owners,” he said.
Also, Ms Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf, the State Commissioner for Tourism, Art and Culture, said the government had invested in the renovation of the Vlekete Slave Market Museum to serve as a monumental reminder of a period in Lagos’ history.
Akinbile-Yusuf said it was also meant to celebrate the resilience and heroic spirit of the slave victims.
She appealed to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Nigerian National Commission for UNESCO (NAT-COM) and the National Commission on Museums and Monuments (NCMM) to support the slave market museum.
She said this should be in terms of registration, publicity and global recognition
According to her, this was to give the museum the attention it deserved and also to boost the tourism industry in Lagos State.
“I am convinced that with the renovation that has taken place in this slave market museum, Badagry is now better positioned as a major destination for tourism, leisure and history education.
“I implore our great Chiefs and leaders present here to jealously guard these monuments, artifacts and historical pieces, as well as the museum to ensure they are properly preserved and continue to draw the proper attention to Badagry,” she said.
Mr Dimitri Sanga, the director of the UNESCO Multisectoral Regional Office for West Africa, said the organization believed that ignorance or concealment of important historical events was an obstacle to mutual understanding, reconciliation and cooperation between people.
Sanga was represented by Mr. Delanghe Philippe, Culture Program Specialist, UNESCO.
“Museums are not just places where our common heritage is preserved, they are important spaces for education, inspiration and dialogue.
“They play an essential role in social cohesion and share collective references, they also provide opportunities to foster creativity, imagination and respect for oneself and others.
“We are ready to continue working with you to achieve the objectives for the museum,” he said.
Also, Prof Isa Tijani, Director General, NCMM, praised the state government for reiterating its commitment to exploiting the state’s rich tourism and cultural heritage.
“We congratulate you and assure you that through our oversight function, NCMM is ready and willing to assist you with all the necessary expertise to drive the project and other similar projects you intend to undertake in the future,” he said.
Mr Idowu Olagunju, Secretary General of the National Commission for UNESCO, praised the commendable initiative to document slave trade activities in Nigeria.
Olagunju said this would go a long way in connecting history with the present to create a brighter future for Nigerians.