Memory of slave trade at Badagry Festival
By Akeem Lasisi
Wednesday, 3 Aug 2011
One of the art works exhibited at the festival
The President of the Africa Renaissance Foundation, organisers of the Badagry Festival, Mr. Babatunde Olaide-Mesewaku, has said that the need to reflect on the past and make the town a tourism destination inspired him to create the festival.
Olaide-Masewaku made this known at the opening of the 2011 edition of the feast where traditional rulers, indigenes and tourists have, since Friday, been celebrating the essence of the town once popular as a slave port.
?Today is dedicated to the abolition of the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade in Badagry, whose early history was characterised by slave trade, and which has become an important heritage in the world,? he said. ?On March 15, 1852 (159 years ago), Badagry chiefs sat together and signed a treaty to abolish slave trade in Badagry. We must line up with global trends to remember our great grand fathers so that Badagry would not go into extinction.
He noted that the occasion was also meant to atone for the souls of those who shed their blood in Badagry to cleanse the community of the sins of the past.
?Today, we have relics in Badagry of the slave trade. The first white slaver in Badagry has his grave at the oba?s palace. We use this festival to say that our community does not forget its history,? Olaide-Masewaku added.
Since the weekend when the festival started, various cultural and educational activities have been taking place. These include a rite of appeasement done in the presence of the Akran of Badagry, HRH De Wheno Aholu Menu-Toyi I, who declared the festival open.
In his remarks, the Akran revisited the slave trade debacle and urged Africans, at home and abroad, to foster a closer relationship.
He said, ?What took place (slave trade) was a very bad one and should not be allowed to happen again. But happily, the children of the slaves are in other places like America, Brazil and the Caribbean. We should thank God for the descendants of the slaves for creating a larger community of Africans outside the parent continent, where they were taken to work in the plantations. They should not harbour any animosity against us in Africa.?
Other events at the opening ceremony were a painting exhibition, a fashion show organised by the Skills Acquisition Centre, Badagry, a lecture on the importance of culture by Mr. Damola Dacosta and the staging of a play titled Wailings from Badagry.