The Badagry Heritage Museum is a valuable repository of artifacts, records, and the rich culture of the Badagry people. It showcases objects from the pre-slave era, slave era, and post-slave era, preserving the town's history. The people of Badagry have chosen to resist selling their cherished possessions and instead display unique and historically significant items in the museum. It serves as a powerful reminder of their heritage.
When you visit the Badagry Heritage Museum, the tour guide will lead you through eight galleries, each representing different periods of the slave era. These galleries cover various aspects, from capturing slaves to their transportation abroad, as well as the abolishment laws and the return of former slaves to Badagry. The museum is a treasure trove of culture, information, and history, offering a glimpse into the African origin. It beautifully showcases the story that predates the era of slavery, highlighting the rich culture and records of the early inhabitants of Badagry. It's a must-visit to truly understand and appreciate African history.
In the museum, the gallery have been organized into different sections, each dedicated to showcasing the origins of the slave trade and its eventual abolition. It's a comprehensive display that tells the complete story.
1st Gallery - The 'Introductory' Gallery
As you step into the museum, the first gallery you encounter features a powerful statue of a man breaking free from chains, symbolizing freedom. In this gallery, there's also a large book on a table in the corner, filled with pictures that offer glimpses into Nigeria's history. You'll find images of Badagry, its founding era, its rulers, and even some pictures of past Nigerian leaders. It's a captivating introduction to the rich heritage on display.
2nd Gallery - The 'Capture' Gallery
Prepare to be deeply moved by this gallery. It showcases the haunting artifacts of the slave trade, such as chains and mouth muzzles that were used to imprison captured individuals throughout their lives. The gallery also features pictures that vividly depict the harsh reality faced by those held captive in these devices. It's a powerful and emotional experience that may bring you to tears.
3rd Gallery - The 'Transportation' Gallery
This gallery gives a glimpse into the transportation of slaves, their meals, and the replica ship with upper and lower decks. It highlights the unfortunate reality of captured humans and cargo traveling together. The gallery concludes with a chilling artifact—a drinking pot with sharp edges.
4th Gallery - The 'Equipment' Gallery
This gallery houses the original safe used by the colonial masters of the house before they left. It is said there are still documents, money and other important files remaining in the safe till date.
5th Gallery - The 'Resistance & Punishment' Gallery
What you will notice in this gallery as you enter is the display of love between a dog and a human lying on the floor. On closer look (and with the tour guides narration), you will come to understand that the dog is trying to bith off the throat of the human who is a slave trying to escape or is being punished for any number of reason. The slaves are divided into Field slaves & Domestic slaves. The Domestic slaves were the 'well to do' slaves as they lived in the masters house and did his bidding. Some got the opportunity to read & write for their masters even going on to managing their Master's slave business themselves while still remaining a slave under the master.
6th Gallery - The 'Industry' Gallery
This gallery displays the bar racoons where captured humans were held before being sold by slave dealers. A bar racoon is a room where humans were kept until buyers arrived. A ship surgeon carefully inspected each slave that the ship intended to purchase. The healthy and capable slaves were separated from the unfit ones, known as Makrons. Once a slave was deemed fit for purchase, they were branded or stamped with the initials of the slave dealer or their nationality. This ensured that slaves would not be mixed up when they reached their destinations.
7th Gallery - The 'Integration' Gallery
It shows the way the slave dealers absorbed/adapted the slaves into their new environment to get the best out of them. You will see clippings showing live auctions & shippings.
8th Gallery - The 'Abolition' Gallery
Inside this exhibit, you'll encounter the remarkable individuals who bravely fought for the abolition of slavery. Among the countless heroes, one woman stands out for rescuing 300 people without any casualties. It's astonishing to realize that slavery persisted for a century even after its public declaration as illegal. As you step onto the balcony, you'll catch your first glimpse of the Island of no Return, where ships arrived in Badagry to transport captured humans into the depths of slavery.
A visit to the gallery is highly recommended on a trip to Nigeria and Badagry.