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    Why is Badagry a ghost town for tourists?



    Badagry, Nigeria’s most popular border town, is less than 60 kilometers from Port Novo and Cotonou, Benin Republic’s political and commercial capitals respectively. An ancient point of entry into Nigeria dating back to the slave trade era, since the 15th century, Badagry with all its historical recordings including many ‘firsts’ in Nigeria, remains a shadow and ghost town for both local and international tourists. An insignificant number is seen exploring the many monuments daily, monthly and annually, according to local tour operators.

    We had gone on a humanitarian drive of encouraging prison inmates at the Badagry Custodial Centre on the invitation of Inmates Educational Foundation (IEF), a Nigerian non-governmental organisation dedicated to educating persons in Nigeria prisons for self and societal transformation. The IEF is founded and led by Mahfuz Alabidun, a Mandela Washington Fellow 2023. After our talks and donations to the five inmates, who were registered to take the General Certificate of Education (GCE) examinations, beginning this mid-November, we proceeded to explore Badagry.

    Our first point of call was the Badagry Slave Market Museum International, the original site of Badagry slave market established in 1502, one of the earliest slave markets in the world, transacting about 300 slaves every five market days. Despite its gigantic structure, which was recently commissioned, the museum looked deserted by tourists as we were the only visible persons attending as at 3pm Nigeria time. In fact, Dolapo, the museum attendant and tourist guide, sped out of the entrance earlier on to welcome us as we alighted from motorbikes. When we arrived, we looked unsure if we were at the right place. Although the museum is newly built, less than two years old and began full operations in August 2022, the history and artefacts housed in the museum should be enough attraction for both local and international tourists.

    From the Vlekete shrine to the trial of Richard Lander, the British explorer who visited Badagry in 1825 after Britain had abolished slave trade in1807, to the slave dungeon depository and the continuous story of slave trade in Badagry, until the last slave ship that left Badagry for Bahia, Brazil in 1888, Badagry Slave Market Museum International embodies colossal transatlantic slave trade history.

    Less than 10 minutes walk from the Badagry Slave Market Museum International is the famous first storey building in Nigeria, built over 178 years ago and still standing with many of the original building materials intact. The building signifies the first church, school and bank where Nigerians began the first learning of Western education, Christian religion and how to save money and important documents. Amongst the few displays inside the building are the original Yoruba translation of the Bible by Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther, a captured slave, who later got freed and trained in Freetown, Sierra Leone through British intervention. The building built by Reverend Charles Gollmer, which is 44ft in length and 26ft in width, is estimated to cost £325 as of 1845 when the building was completed. The amount is equivalent to £48,731 today according to official data.

    As we explore the streets of Badagry, Tolani Oni, a Mandela Washington Fellow 2015, Semasa Ojo, 2021 general secretary of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Lagos State Network and I, centered our discussions on the many tourism opportunities wasting in Badagry. The government and the private sector needed to take tourism seriously by investing not only in the tourist sites, but by consistent marketing, showcasing of the products,services through local and international channels. Also, other enablers include good road network, security; an important complement in attracting tourists, which will result in huge foreign exchange for the government and job opportunities for the locals.

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    Traditional Ruler Extols Cultural Fiesta In London



    Traditional Ruler Extols Cultural Fiesta In London

    The Chancellor, Federal Universi­ty, Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State and Chairman, Imo State Council of Elders, Eze Cletus Ilomuanya, has urged all sons and daughters of Igboland living abroad to remain steadfast in supporting develop­ment at home.

    He also urged them to uphold the culture of the Igbo.

    Eze Ilomuanya, who is the Obi of Obinugwu in Imo State, made the call at the 9th Igbo Festival of Arts and Culture, which was held at Enfield, London on July 14.

    The 2024 edition of the festival attracted a large number of par­ticipants and guests, among them many non-Igbo and foreigners.

    The Igbo Festival of Arts and Culture is an independent cultur­al exposition that is held in Lon­don every year.

    Eze Ilomuanya, was elated at the tireless effort which the or­ganisers of the event led by Mazi Obi Okoli, put into “Elevate Igbo culture to international promi­nence”.

    He commended the festival which he said had been “helping in no small measure” to encour­age the younger generation to em­brace the values and tradition of the Igbo.

    The traditional ruler advocated for more “unity and understand­ing among our people”, assuring the Igbo abroad that the incidents of insecurity at home, which arose not too long ago is being combated, to ensure that Igbo people abroad are not hindered from periodically bringing back their families and children, es­pecially at festive periods, in an atmosphere of peace and security.

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    Lagos woos more for tourism, culture



    Lagos woos more for tourism, culture

    Once again, Lagos is extending its excellence in commerce to tourism and culture with a nine-day festival expected to woo thousands of locals and visitors alike to the city later in the year.

    The state, through its Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture, is collaborating with the QDance Center to host Afropolis Lagos 2024.

    The maiden edition of the nine-day festival will take place from October 26 to November 3, 2024 at the J.K Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture and History, Onikan, and its environ.

    Speaking on the import of the festival at a recent Town Hall Meeting, Toke Benson-Awoyinka, Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts, and Culture, said that the event, which seeks to celebrate creativity and innovation, is aimed at transforming Lagos into a vibrant hub of artistic and technological excellence.

    “The essence of Afropolis lies in its ability to bring together a diverse array of creative minds. Imagine the vibrant fusion of traditional and modern expressions that will be on display, from indigenous crafts to cutting-edge digital art.

    “This melting pot of ideas and talents promises to be an unforgettable experience for both participants and attendees,” the commissioner said.

    Explaining the choice of J.K Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture and History as the venue for the festival, she highlighted the historical significance of Onikan, which has long been a cultural hub, and hosting Afropolis here would be a fitting tribute to its legacy.

    “The J.Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture and History, in particular, stands as a beacon of our rich heritage and offers the perfect backdrop for this celebration,” she said.

    The essence of Afropolis festival, according to the commissioner, lies in its ability to bring together a diverse array of creative minds.

    “Imagine the vibrant fusion of traditional and modern expressions that will be on display, from indigenous crafts to cutting-edge digital art. This melting pot of ideas and talents promises to be an unforgettable experience for both participants and attendees,” she assured.

    On his part, Qudus Onikeku, head of the QDance Center, explained that Afropolis would showcase the whole gamut of creativity as well as transform Onikan’s main street and JK Randle Road, into a lively arts and tech assemblage.

    Highlighting programmes of the nine-day event, Onikeku said Afropolis would feature among other things, pop up fashion stores, arts and craft market, live performances, street arts, street food, street vendors, music concerts, DJsets, master classes, meetings and networking.

    “The rest are talks and round tables, gaming, innovation, exhibition, children playground and urban culture display,” he said.

    According to him, Afropolis will also see a range of smaller break-outs as well as highly interactive sessions and master classes focused on topics across creative sectors.

    “It is projected that Afropolis will attract more than 1,000 creatives and exhibitors from Arica and the diaspora.

    “We also expect more than 20,000 visitors, buyers and delegates from Africa, the diaspora and the rest of the world.

    “It provides a platform for young talents to showcase their ideas, and stimulate economic growth for local vendors, artisans and global African creatives to showcase their product or services.

    “It will position Lagos as a hub for technology, creativity and innovation by leveraging the festival to showcase African advancements in art, tech, gaming, design, fashion and other creative fields,” Onikeku said.

    The nine-day festival will culminate in a curated marketplace over the weekend, where participants will showcase their local and international innovations and works.

    From a partner’s perspective, Blessing Azubike, senior programmes manager, CC Hub, one of the partners in the festival, expressed excitement being on the project, saying that her outfit is passionate about anything co-creation, which is what it is on board to do.

    “We will be serving on the technology component of the gathering,” she noted.

    Ajibade Adewale, group head, partnerships, Wema Bank, assured revellers of safety with their finances in the course of business transactions during Afropolis carnival.

    “We will ensure your transaction is taken care of digitally, we are also there to guarantee that your money is safe with CC Hub because we are partnering with them as well,” Adewale said.

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    China, Nigeria Commit to Promotion of Tourism, Cultural Exchange



    China, Nigeria Commit to Promotion of Tourism, Cultural Exchange

    The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Abuja has reiterated its commitment to promote tourism and cultural exchange with Nigeria within the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in order to enhance the two countries’ bilateral relations.

    The Embassy made the pledge at the weekend during a Seminar on “Promoting Culture and Tourism Exchange in BRI Cooperation”, jointly hosted by the Chinese Embassy, China Alumni Association of Nigeria and University of Abuja.

    Cultural Counselor of the Chinese Embassy, Mr. Li Xuda said that the embassy has always regarded promoting people-to-people ties between China and Nigeria highly because cultural and tourism exchange plays a special and important role in societal progress and national development.

    Li also added that the joint construction of BRI takes “Five Cooperation Priorities” as the main content: Policy Coordination, Facilities Connectivity, Unimpeded Trade, Financial Integration and People-to-People Bond.

    He said: “The people-to-people bond, one of the five cooperation priorities of the BRI, goes beyond culture and tourism exchange and seeks to build common understanding out of respect for countries and regions in its big family.

    “Both China and Nigeria are cultural giants with fabulous ancient civilization and rich tourism resources.
    “Since six years ago, China and Nigeria became close partners in jointly building BRI, which made our bilateral exchange even more in-depth and practical.

    “I firmly believe that our culture and tourism will be further promoted in the new stage of high-quality joint construction of BRI and some of our cultural gaps and exchange barriers will be bridged.”

    On his part, the Executive Secretary/CEO , National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Otunba Biodun Ajiboye, expressed gratitude to the Chinese government for their continuous support in developing Nigeria’s culture and tourism sector.

    He noted that Nigeria has a large wealth of natural and cultural attractions ranging from stunning landscapes of its national parks to the historic landmarks and vibrant cities that tell the story of the nation.

    He said: “We must therefore leverage the BRI to enhance our tourism infrastructure, promote sustainable tourism practices, and create unique cultural experiences for visitors.

    “By doing so, we can attract more tourists, generate revenue, and create jobs while preserving and celebrating our cultural heritage.

    “We will work closely with our Chinese counterparts to develop joint projects, exchange programmes and collaborative initiatives that have mutual benefits for both countries.”

    The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a global infrastructure development strategy adopted by the Chinese government in 2013 to invest in more than 150 countries and international organisations.

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