Retracing My Steps Back To Badagry

A group trip planned for the Qings Journal Community

Picture of nomadic negro at the point of no return in Badagry

“Hi Tunde, I’m at the checkout point inside spa supermarket.” Lola said sharply from the other end of the phone.

“Come towards the bar at the entrance of the mall.” Said Smith.

“Baba abeg, I just dey pass Ibadan, I will join you guys in about an hour’s time. That was Waduud, who had set out from Ife and risked everything to make the trip.

It was a busy Friday morning. The influx of people and automobiles to and from the rowdy Yaba market contributed largely to the intensity of activities within the Tejuosho Complex which stood gallantly opposite the market. Somewhere else could have been chosen as our converging point but Yaba was the most proximate and Tejuosho remained the best landmark.

With our driver calmly parked in front of the complex, I ushered everyone in, did a brief introduction because no one knew anyone prior to the trip.

By 11:40am we were already on one of Nigeria’s most dangerous express roads. It was a terrible 3-hour drive, to say the least. The potholes have now turned into filthy dungeons. I fought the urge to imagine how it’d look on a rainy day.

Bad road situation of Badagry express way
I wondered how our government officials hold conversations around infrastructure with leaders of other west African countries.

Countless custom officials stood at strategic positions, randomly pulling over vehicles to collect bribes in a very meticulous manner. This happened almost every 10 minutes till we got to Badagry.

 

Arriving Badagry (2:50pm)

Badagry was quiet as usual when we rode into Rollykings hotel (one of the best in the town), popular for its serene environment and reliable security, but notorious for its food.

Our rooms had been booked the previous day via hotels.ng, so, our keys were handed over to us on getting to the reception where we were assigned 2 attendants who helped us settle into our rooms.

Rollykings Hotel Badagry
RollyKings from outside
Rollykings Hotel Badagry
Don’t you just like the modesty of the room?
Rollykings Hotel Badagry
The bathrooms come fitted with the basic needs of every occupant.

“Ti e ba ti she tan, e je ki n mo o.” that was the new driver who I had organised to take us round throughout our stay in Badagry. He was calling to know if we were ready to set out. So we showered hastily, changed our clothes and rushed downstairs to join our driver and Femi (the same Femi who had served as my guide when I first visited Badagry in 2016).

 

Mobee Family Museum

Mobee family museum

The ancestral home of Chief Mobee was our first stop. It’s one of the most popular museums in Badagry because it houses tells the history of slave trade from the view point of Chief Mobee, one of the most powerful six white cap Chiefs in Badagry at the time.

Chief Mobee was actually a popular and very influential chief who actively engaged in the slave trade during his reign. His real name does not have Mobee in it. It was a name he got during the slave era. You see, whenever the white slave traders came around, his default mode of welcoming them was by saying “e mu obi je”.  A yoruba statement which loosely means pick cola nut and eat. He never fails to do this every time they come. And since the whites don’t really understand him, they started calling him chief “mu obi” which later transcended to Mobee and before long, the name stuck.

Mobee family museum
Chief Mobee’s grave: He died on the 16th of October 1893

We saw different items such as Gin bottle, small and big canon guns which are exchanged for 10, 20 and 100 slaves respectively. This struck us, almost paralyzing our happy mood. But the adventure had barely started so we braced up, took some interesting pictures before marching into Chief Seriki Abass’ compound, which was like 50 steps away.

 

Seriki Abass Williams Brazilian Baracoon

Seriki Abass Museum

Nursing mothers and bleating goats littered every possible angle from the entrance to the courtyard of the monument. All except the goats were descendants of Chief Williams, a rich and famous slave trader who opted for becoming a slave trader rather than remaining a slave at a time his owner offered him both options as the condition for his freedom.

Unlike the legendary Bishop Ajayi Crowther who was captured at age 12, Chief Serilki Abass Faremi was captured at a tender age of 8.

Seriki Abass Williams joined the slave business and soon became a beast- that which everyone respected. How? What made him so strong and influential?  The answers were simple:

Since he was captured at a very tender age, he could read and write very well. In addition to this, he was multilingual. He could speak English, French, Spanish, Brazilian and Yoruba fluently.

Objects inside Seriki Abass museum
Seriki Abass Williams became so wealthy that the more slaves he sold, the more materials he got from whites.

Seriki Abass Museum

Seriki Abass Museum

Seriki Abass
Chief Abass went ahead to marry 128 wives who together bore him 144 children.
We proceeded into 2 of the numerous Baracoons within the compound as we found similar items we earlier saw at chief Mobee’s place. And just when I thought we had heard enough, we got torn apart when our guide told us that 40 slaves were kept in each cell room for 3 whole months before being shipped out to different parts of the world.

Now the question on our lips was:

Why would Africans sell their kinsmen voluntarily to the whites for incredulous items such as mirrors and gin?

 

Slightly sober, we hopped into the car as it tore through the tarred streets of Badagry, making it’s way to compound where the first storey building in Nigeria is located.

 

First Storey Building

This compound has always competed with a graveyard with its quietness. The grass were so visibly tender that I felt slightly uneasy as we marched towards the almond tree where the operators of the monuments were enjoying the afternoon breeze.

First Storey building in Nigeria

 

First storey building in Nigeria

We exchanged pleasantries and in less than an hour, we were half way into the history behind the building which is unarguably one of the most popular monuments in Nigeria. It was where the earliest missionaries sent to Nigeria resided. We learned about the life and times of  Ajayi Crowther, Africa’s first Bishop, who also was responsible for translating the English bible to the first Yoruba bible.

First storey building in Nigeria
Waduud to the world

Done with the tales behind the white building, we marched towards the back gate where our car was parked. This was after peeking into the only well in the compound which happens to also be the first in Nigeria.

only well in the compound which happens to also be the first in the country to have a look before leaving the premises through

 

Badagry Heritage Museum

Of all the monuments in Badagry, this is the only one directly managed by the Government. And unlike many other government owned edifices, this particularly looked well maintained.

Badagry heritage museum

The Badgry Heritage museum is a storey building which tried doing justice to telling the story of Badagry from its earliest days through the slave era down to her myriads of tradition and custom.

Hunger Soon Came For Us

The time was few minutes to 6pm and we were all hungry. According to Femi, Iya Suliya’s Amala is the only known antidote, so we drove to her shop, an old restaurant close to Badagry roundabout.

Iya Suliya's shop

We ate enough wraps of Amala, gbegiri and ewedu with large chunks of goat meat.

You can tell the amount of Joy in Smith’s mind from this picture.

This marked the end of our exploration for the first day. We retired with filled tummies to our hotel to relax and sleep thereafter in anticipation of the next day’s adventures.

Rollykings Hotel Badagry
Back at our hotel, I still had a bit of live in me, so I went to the pool downstairs to do some writing, leaving everyone upstairs but didn’t last long due to how much beer consumed so I strolled lazily back to our room, collapsing on the bed in one loud thud. Lola too had slept in her room, but according to the story I heard the next morning, Waduud and Smith swam in the pool till 1am before calling it a day.

 

*Day 2*

 

Point Of No Return

We had agreed to set out as early as 7:30am because the most irrational decision anyone can make is walking under the sun to Gberefu Island (where the point of no return is located). But the previous day’s activities have taken its toll on everyone Except Lola who had woken and gotten dressed way before 7am, the rest of us slept recklessly like we had been hit with a diabolical ring.

We finally got ready by 8:30am, but our driver was as calm as ever as he rode us all to the jetty where we boarded a speed boat to Gberefu Island.

Rollykings Hotel
All set for the point of no return
point of no return Badagry
All kitted for the boat ride
Gberefu Island Badagry
That path leads to Gberefu Island- the quiet Island where the point of no return is located. Adventurers  are usually made to trek from this jetty for about 10 minutes till they get to the sea shore where they’d be shipped off to different parts of the world where they’d never get to see or reunite with their families again. Hence they get branded with new name, owners and an entirely new life. This trek is therefore aimed at making us feel what the slaves felt during their time.
point of no return Badagry
Pre-wedding shot
Point of no return, Badagry
Midway into the journey
The spirit attenuation well
The spirit attenuation well:
This shed houses a well from where the slaves would be made to drink but which unknown to them had been poisoned with a memory loss charm which will affect them for a minimum of 3 months when they’d already be on their voyage to different parts of the world.
point of no return Badagry
Few steps more and she’s get there before everyone else.

 

Activities At The Point Of No Return

Point of no return monument
The structure you see here is what is being designed to replicate a slave ship. Though still under construction, the two vertical pillars represents the exit through which the slaves get to have their last interaction with their motherland. The curvy black part represents the ship which with which they’s travel. At completion, the interior of the ship will b designed to look exactly how the interior of the slave ship looked like.
point of no return Badagry
Crab time at the point of no return

point of no return Badagry

point of no return Badagry
While Mr Waddud and Lola got busy with sketching the skeleton of the mural we wanted to paint at the point of no return, me and Smith played like babies at the shore.

point of no return Badagry

point of no return Badagry
The mural painting was one of core reasons why the Qing’s travel community was launched- and this was to creatively use the power of art in positively impacting our immediate environment.

Unlike the day before, we were twice as hungry, so hungry that walking back to the jetty to board our boat seemed more herculean than making Lagosians obey traffic rules. We finally sailed across the lagoon, hopped into our car, then straight to an open restaurant beside the lagoon where we had rice, plantain with fish.

Everyone except me bought a pack of noodles which we devoured on getting to the hotel. after which we all reported to the pool side where we ‘vibed’ for more than 3 hours.

swimming pool at Rollykings hotel

That night, we played ‘How Nigerian Are you‘ (a card game which tests how well you know the Nigerian culture and history) late into the night until hunger came again. Smith and Waduud went with the driver to get eba and amala with some fruits for everyone .

The sleep that night was sound. It renewed our minds for the journey back home the next day.


This trip was curated by me for the @Qingsjournal community, a community whose goal is to use the power of art in tackling major emotional and psychological issues faced by the Nigerian youths.

I’ve titled it Retracing my steps back to Badagry because it’s my second major trip to Badagry as an adventurer. You can read up on my first experience here.


 

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Nice read, though the history is a really sad one. I missed taking a trip to Gberefu island this sallah break, this has peaked my interest level.

  2. Succinctly apt! It is an honour to have experienced this with you and it so surreal to see you pour all those experience out in a mindblowing manner. Thank you.

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