Exclusive Documentary on Badagry: Discovering Nigeria, Witnessing Our History


ROGO At Large:

Badagry (traditionally Gbagle) is a coastal town and local government area (LGA) in Lagos State, Nigeria. It is situated between the city of Lagos, and the border with Benin at Seme.

Founded in the early 15th century on a lagoon off the Gulf of Guinea, its protected harbour led to the town becoming a key port in the export of slaves to the Americas, which were mainly to Salvador, Bahia in Brazil. Badagry is a monarchy headed by the Wheno Aholuship, a kingship head by the Akran of Badagry and his seven white cap high chiefs. The white cap chiefs administer the eight quarters into which Badagry is divided, they include Ahovikoh, Boekoh, Jegba, Posukoh, Awhanjigo, Asago, Whalako and Ganho. These quarters and the families that ruled them played prominent roles in brokering slave trade with the Europeans and Brazilians. From the 1840s, following the suppression of the slave trade, Badagry declined significantly, but became a major site of Christian mission work. Christianity (as a religion of the so-called white) was first preached in Nigeria at Badagry in 1842 by Rev Thomas Birch Freeman and he celebrated the first Christmas in Nigeria the following year. The site where Christianity was first preached then is now the “Agiya Tree Monument” beside the Badagry Town Hall.

The first educational system of Nigeria as a British colony started in Badagry where the first primary school was established by the Wesleyan mission (Methodist Church) in 1843 and named Nursery of Infant Church which later became St. Thomas’ Anglican Nursery and Primary School, founded by Rev. Golmer of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) in 1845, inside the first storey building in Badagry. The Wesleyans in the same year 1843 then went to central Lagos and founded Olowogbowo Methodist School and Ereko Methodist School in 1869. Olowogbowo Methodist School is still waxing strong located just behind Wesley Cathedral Olowogbowo while Ereko Mehodist School was relocated to Berkely Street and is also still waxing strong. The first secondary school in Badagry was built over one hundred years later called Badagry Grammar School in 1955 due to misunderstanding between the Missionaries and the natives that made them leave the town unceremoniously. In 1863 the town was annexed by the United Kingdom and incorporated into the Lagos colony. In 1901 it became a part of Nigeria.

Badagry subsists largely on fishing and agriculture,and maintains a small museum of slavery. The town inhabits dwellers from all over the country doing different business in the town. Some trade in clothing, food items, used cars from overseas and other imported goods. The town is just few kilometers from Seme a border town to Republic of Benin and generates the highest Nigeria Customs duties income till date.

Nigeria's First Storey Building, built in Badagry in 1842
Nigeria’s First Storey Building, built in 1842

This is the building commonly called the first storey building in Nigeria, overlooking the Marina waterfront. It was built in 1842 by Rev Bernard Freeman and other missionaries. Although it was built thousands of years after the first story building was constructed in Nigeria, with many still standing multistorey buildings, the name has stuck.

In 2012, De Wheno Aholu Menu-Toyi I (OFR,LL.D, D.Litt, JP), The Akran of Badagry Kingdom, bestowed upon Mayor Dr. James L. Walls, Jr., President of the World Conference of Mayors a Chieftancy title has the “Yenawa of Badagry Kingdom”, making him the only living chief from the Western world.

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