“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.
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.
“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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We ate enough wraps of Amala, gbegiri and ewedu with large chunks of goat meat.
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.
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.
Activities At The Point Of No Return
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.
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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