•Visited Aholu •Called for West – African Regional strategy on slave route Tourism
The Badagry Tourism Initiative being spearheaded by the Governor of Lagos State. Mr Akinwumi Ambode got a royal backing and endorsement on Sunday, 21 August, 2016, when the Ooni of Ife, His Royal Majesty, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi was conducted on a tour of some historical tourism sites in the town.
The Aholu Menutoyi – in – Council had specially despatched 24 Badagry titled Chiefs to Ile – Ife recently imploring Oba Ogunwusi not only to visit Badagry but to come and bless the town which has made indelible contributions to the economic, educational, commercial, cultural and social development of the country.
In his royal response to the quest of the people of Badagry, Oba Ogunwusi on Sunday, 21 August, accompanied by traditional obas and eminent personalities from Ife arrived Badagry at 11 a.m.
Ooni’s entry convoy, set the town of Badagry agog and threw the inhabitants into jubilation, praise singing, commendation and applause while Oba Ogunwusi and his Olori watched and nodded appreciatively to the mass of the people from inside the white glowing Rolls Royce Limousine.
The Ooni’s convoy was sherpeded to the palace of Menutoyi, with pomp, dances, cultural exhibition and jollification where Oba Akran though already advanced in age assembled his chiefs and prominent citizens of the town in ushering in the August visitor in the month of August.
Oba Akran who congratulated Ooni Ojaja 11 for his ‘rare wisdom and determination to ensure peace among the Obas, economic development of the people and promotion of cultural tourism urged him not to forget the fact that Badagry is a Yoruba town.
He implored Oba Ogunwusi to always fight, protect the interest and intercede for Badagry whenever is necessary and wherever it matters.
Oba Akran who listed the areas where the people of Badagry want the Ooni to intercede and help lamented that the cultural- tourism glory and asset of Badagry is depreciating and waning.
He also pointed out that development and growth of Badagry is being truncated and stunted by political consideration and perception.
Oba Akran appealed to Ooni Ojaja II to help in enhancing the cultural tourism heritage of the town and in facilitate the rapid execution of projects which the government has promised.
The Ooni in his response commended Oba Akran – in – Council for the invitation and elaborate ceremonies.
He assured Oba Akran and the people of the town that “I am going to read the address and work through the issues raised in there. One thing I assure you is that I will stand by you and put words on your behalf where it matters”.
After the grand reception at the palace of Aholu, the Ooni was welcomed and declared as The Most Important Visitor of the year to the Seriki Faremi Williams Abass Slave Museum which is a national monument by Chief Wasiu Ajibola Seriki Abass, Baale of Yoyowe Badagry new town and a grandson of the late Seriki Abass Williams.
The curator of the museum, Mr Anago James Akeem Osho who conducted the Ooni round the museum explained that the Monument was the baracoon that is barracks where slaves were kept in those days before their final departure to an unknown region.
He related the story of William Abass who rose from being a slave to a slave dealer and who in return served as an instrument in the process of abolition of slave trade.
Mr Anago revealed that late William Abass was a Yoruba man from Aiyetoro, Ogun State and the designated Oba.
His mood nearly drew tears from people how our forefathers participated in the inhuman trade and showed the Ooni, one of the umbrellas which could only be acquired with the exchange of 50 physically fit, strong men!
Anago in sequential order showed the Ooni all other items of horror used in caging, restricting, shackling and blocking bodily parts of the slaves from being used as made by God.
The stories, the instruments and implements of horror which are preserved and demonstrated by Anago and the generational effects and consequences of the slave trade humbled the Ooni.
Ooni who was visibly sad remarked ‘The era of slave trade is part of the tragedy that has befallen the Southern part of the West – Africa and Nigeria in particular. We are daily being reminded about the evil trade by the scars and wounds which though seem to have healed, but daily rear their heads in world politics, discourse and interaction. It is one of the reasons why Africa is still largely underdeveloped as some of the brains meant to develop the continent were crated off their shore via the slave trade”.
He called for concerted efforts at turning the woeful and sorrowful stories and histories of the slave trade to a development memoir of benefits to the people without calling for outright reparation.
“It is my believe that we can turn these bitter experiences, memories and history of slave trade to enrich our people, develop our society and empower the jobless. It is high time we moved from gnashing our teeth for the wrong of the past to turning the wrong into positive venture by enhancing the relics for productivity and empowerment”.
The Ooni however pointed out, “Nigeria can get the best out of the Slave Route Project if we can initiate a regional approach to the enhancement of its derivatives bearing in mind that slavery activities were also prominent in Ghana (Elmina Castle), Senegal (Goree Island), Gambia (Kinta kinte) and Cote D’ivoire”.
The Ooni also visited the first storey-building in Nigeria where late Samuel Ajayi Crowther translated the English Bible to Yoruba and a compound where the first primary school was planted.
Summing up the Ooni visit, High Chief Agoloto of Badagry said “The Ooni is a light bearer. He has come to offer us a hope of redeeming the stagnant state of Badagry. Even though Badagry is the cradle of civilisation, we have been relegated to the background by past government. We have made our challenges known to him and Ooni has promised to look into them. Like he said, Igba otun ti de. A new dawn has come. We claim it. Ooni’s visit is hope lifting”.