Badagry, also spelled Badagri, town and lagoon port in Lagos state, southwestern Nigeria. It lies on the north bank of Porto Novo Creek, an inland waterway that connects the national capitals of Nigeria (Lagos) and Benin (Porto-Novo), and on a road that leads to Lagos, Ilaro, and Porto-Novo. Founded in the late 1720s by Popo refugees from the wars with the Fon people of Dahomey, Badagry was, for the next century, a notorious exporter of slaves to the Americas. A British trading post was established there in the 1820s, and Badagry developed as a palm-oil port for Egbaland to the north and as an importer of European cloth. In the 1830s it attracted freed slaves from Freetown (Sierra Leone), and, in 1842, it became the site of the first European mission (Methodist) in Nigeria. Although the trade route to Abeokuta (56 miles [90 km] north-northeast) was controlled by unfriendly Dahomeyans (whose frequent raids had almost destroyed the town in the late 18th century), Badagry remained a leading port and mission centre—a Yoruba mission (Anglican) was also established in the early 1840s—until the attack in 1851 by the army of Lagos when the city was destroyed by fire. That attack, combined with the constant threat of the Fon and the poor sandy soils in the vicinity, led to a general exodus of the town’s traders, missionaries, and farmers.
Coconut plantations were first established in the vicinity in the 1880s, and modern Badagry exports coconuts, copra, coir (coconut husk fibre), fish, vegetables, and cassava to Lagos (34 miles [55 km] east). After the establishment in the mid-1960s of a factory that makes bags for packing farm products, the collection of kenaf, cultivated for its fibres, became increasingly important. Local trade is primarily in fish, palm oil and kernels, cassava, corn (maize), and coconuts.
Badagry is the seat of a local government council and is mainly inhabited by Popo and Gun peoples. Badagry rapidly became a major residential suburb of Lagos after the opening in 1976 of an expressway. The town has an automotive assembly plant, and it is the site of a college, a secondary school, and several hospitals. Pop. (2006) local government area, 241,093.
Its believed that Badagry was an important slave route in West Africa. Badagry is one of five divisions created in Lagos State in l968.
A darker historical era saw many people of West Africa leave their shores for plantations in Europe, North and South America and the Caribbean. The infamous slave trade in Nigeria is not known to many people like the slave trade in Ghana, Senegal, Togo and Benin. Nigeria and Ghana were former British colonies. Senegal, Togo and Benin were former French colonies.
This ancient town of Badagry was founded around l425 A.D. Before its existence, people lived along the Coast of Gberefu and this area later gave birth to the town of Badagry. It is the second largest commercial town in Lagos State, located an hour from Lagos and half hour from the Republic du Benin. The Town of Badgry is bordered on the south by the Gulf of Guinea and surrounded by creeks, islands and a lake. The ancient town served mainly the Oyo Empire which was comprised of Yoruba and Ogu people. Today, the Aworis and Egun are mainly the people who reside in the town of Badagry as well as in Ogun State in Nigeria and in the neighboring Republic du Benin.
In the early 1500’s, slaves were transported from West Africa to America through Badagry. It is reported that Badagry exported no fewer than 550,000 African slaves to America during the period of the American Independence in l787. In addition, slaves were transported to Europe, South America and the Caribbean. The slaves came mainly from West Africa and the neighboring countries of Benin and Togo as well as others parts of Nigeria. The slave trade became the major source of income for the Europeans in Badagry.
The town of Badagry wants to enlighten the world to its historic sites, landscapes, cultural artifacts and relics of human slavery. Badagry wants to share this world heritage site with others. They are preserving buildings, sites and memories of this iniquitous period so those tourists can unearth the dark impact of this era. Places of interest include the Palace of the Akran of Badagry and its mini ethnographic museum, the early missionaries cemetery, the District Officer’s Office and Residence, the First Storey Building in Nigeria constructed by the Anglican missionaries, relics of slave chains in the mini museum of slave trade, cannons of war, the Vlekte slave Market, and the Slave Port established for the shipment of slaves before the l6th century.
I will now quote from a booklet entitled “History of the Mobee Family of Badagry and Their Involvement in the Slave Trade”, Olusegun Mobee. I bought this booklet during my visit to Badagry.
In the 24-page booklet Mr. Mobee states, “Slaves were never captured in Badagry…As a matter of fact, then, slavery was recognized institution all over the world. Slaves were employed by Kings, Chiefs, and wealthy people in their houses as domestic servants. A man’s economic and social status were assessed by the number of slaves he possessed. This type of slavery was known as domestic slavery. Usually, many of these slaves were captives of war. But many of the slave owners on learning that European slave merchants were besieging Badagry with goods such as iron bars, cotton, wool, linen, whiskey, gin, metal wares, and assorted wines in exchange for slaves, wasted no time to bring their domestic slaves to Badagry with the hope of exchanging them for the listed items. It was confessed that the prospects of Trans Atlantic Slave Trade fueled into tribal wars in Yorubaland as the kings and slaves who had taken part of the European slave merchants’ offer, went all out to wage war on the other towns and villages with the sole aim of getting slaves to be exchanged for wine and guns.”
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