Saturday, May 6, 2017

Origin of European Slave Trade in Africa, And their Voyage to Lagos Nigeria By Anago James Akeem Osho

The Slave trade is a universal phenomenon. It is not synonymous to a people but the Trans Atlantic Slave trade changed how slavery was viewed. It becomes based on skin color.  This was readily accepted because it already existed. The slavers of the Trans Saharan slave trade degraded African Slaves based on their skin color. This slave
system existed for over a thousand years before the Trans Atlantic slave trade.
 
The European Slave trade in Africa began with Prince Henry of Portugal. His initial aim was to obtain gold from Africa by sea and secondly, he intended to reach India by sea route round the South of Africa. Thirdly, he intended to convert the Africans to Christianity or find an African Christian king that would be his ally against the Muslims of North Africa. 

The first African country that Black people were found by the sailors of Prince Henry the navigators was found at the mouth of River Senegal and Cape Verde. These African people were forcefully taken to Portugal but unfortunately, the possibility of using them as slaves immediately occurred to some of the Portuguese against Prince Henry’s intention of using them as missionaries.

The need for Prince Henry to find an alternative means of sustaining the welfare of his sea captains and sailors readily made him to accept the African slave trade as an option for the sustainability of his exploration and missions.

                   PORTUGUESE VOYAGE TO LAGOS-NIGERIA
Lagos was named by a man called Sequeira, who led the Portuguese expedition in1472. This place was important to him because “it is the first natural harbor which ships coming from Europe reach after passing the estuary in Sierra Leone beside which Free Town now stands” (M.C. English 1959).

The word “Lagos” in Portuguese means Lake or Lagoon.

The old Lagos consist of Isale Eko (down town Lagos), some parts of Otto and Iddo islands and neighbouring villages like Ibeju Lekki, e.t.c . The newer settlements are Oke Olowogbowo, parts of Marina and Popo Aguda (the Brazilian and Portuguese quarters). These areas as at that time constitute the new Lagos. Today, these areas of new Lagos together with Isale Eko, Oto and Iddo are referred to as the old Lagos by the residents.

The quest to search and rediscover the remnant of the biggest slave port on the coast of West Africa by Anago Osho Tourism Adventures and Heritage Preservation began many years ago. 

The focus and objective is important. A slave museum aimed at promoting true history for the homeland and Diaspora to rediscover self, root and develop communities.  

Any community that does not have a museum and does not engage the services of professional researchers would see its history diminish before its very eyes. 

Beware of the distortion of history as some are doing for economic gain, personal or family appraisal, because it will work against them, sooner or later. It may be either in their life time or after they have departed to the underworld. It will be a shame if their descendants begin to spit on their grave.

        THE NEED FOR A HINTERLAND SLAVE MUSEUM

The Idea of Lagos Hinterland Slave History museum, has been kept silent for hundreds of years but the spirit of the slaves that died and yet alive reconnects with this generation.

The numerous Slave museums on the Coasts of Africa benefit from slave tourism without giving credence to the origin of the enslaved people that were taken from the hinterland of Africa to the Diaspora. It is true that the Slave museums on the coast prove that slavery was not just a fiction. It was a real and sorrowful African past, yet, such museums and monuments should do more. 

This is the challenge that brought about the rediscovery and further research into the biggest slave port on the Slave Coast of West Africa, THE SLAVE PORT OF LAGOS

Lagos is known by different names in the history books. The other popular name apart from Lagos was Onim. Majority of the people that were taken away from the slave port of Lagos, Lekki, Epe, Badagry, Porto Novo, Whydah (Ouidah), were majorly Yorubas also called Anago. 

In the Americas they were documented as Nago by the Europeans. The Europeans omitted the letter “A” for easy pronunciation. Another name for the Yorubas is Anago/Anango/Nago. In Gambia and Sierra Leone they are called Aku, in Brazil and Haiti are called Nago and in Cuba are called Lucumi from the Yoruba word Olukumi.
 
The government of Ghana, Senegal and Lagos-Nigeria can work together to conserve the slave history of West Africa, assist, protect and connect with the Diaspora who want to visit or resettle in Africa. 

I implore the Lagos State government to form a group of both local and international think tank, researchers, and unbiased people to research more and understand the idea of the Hinterland slave museum.

The government of Lagos State and the Federal government of Nigeria should show interest and partner on Slave history with the private sector to help the Diasporas trace their real origin through history and blood D.N.A. 

Some communities on the coast of  West Africa instead of helping brothers and sisters in Diasporas to discover their true origin, claim them as their own with the aim of gaining financial assistance from them or to help them develop their communities. This is wrong. We should show love first, and let Diasporan Africans decide where they want to resettle in Africa.

           ORIGIN OF SLAVERY IN LAGOS NIGERIA

The history of the slave trade is not peculiar to a place, community, country or continent. Slavery is common to every ancient kingdoms and communities. It is deep and a very wide subject. A subject that characterized sorrow and pain universally and yet the world can learn from it. History is for us to learn from but is the world learning from the mistakes of the past? 

Slavery existed in Lagos because of its strategic position and natural harbor, and social events or strata among the people like any ancient prospering part of the world. The real reason for slavery was economic and domination.

The growth of Lagos as a Metropolitan and Mega city in Africa today began as a result of its engagement in Slave trading during the nefarious trans-Atlantic Slave trade. 

Before the Portuguese ever came and named Lagos, of which the name Lagos (which glued to the mind of everyone became more popular than other names that the city was called), there were Slaves here in Eko Akete, Ilu Ogbon, as Lagos was locally called. The popularity of the Portuguese was strong and when they named the land, that name superceded every other name that the City was called.

Every community has a story to tell on the history of slavery and if the stories are told or documented, it will help the world in having a better understanding of the past as it concern slavery and the culture of the people before slavery.
The History of Africa did not begin with slavery or the slave trade. The African people according to anthropologists are a people of diverse cultural heritage that dates back to millions of years.

The word ‘’slave’’ is not an African word. The name was derived from the Slavs of Eastern Europe. The French called it esclave and the English ‘’slave’’. It is obvious that slavery was a universal phenomenon. 

The slave trade in Lagos was as old as the first settlers who practiced domestic slavery and sold slaves brought from the hinterland among themselves and later to the Portuguese, the Dutch, the English, the Spanish, the French, and other European merchants of the time. 

The prosperity of trade and the Slave enterprise and desire to expand (aimed at promoting and controlling the slave trade and business in Lagos), motivated Oba Akinsemoyin to formerly invite the Portuguese in 1704 to establish trade centers in Lagos and this automatically legalized international slavery in Lagos. 

It is unfortunate today that there is no slave museum dedicated to the slave history of Lagos. Places like Isale Eko, Offin, Otto-Iddo, Marina, Takwa Bay, Okun Apese (Victoria Island), Lekki (whose original name was Ileke), Epe etc. were areas that the slave trade activities were strong. Agege, Oshodi, used to be Lagos Villages and many Slaves were working on Cocoa plantations there.
 
The respect for the Portuguese slave dealers in Lagos was great and the visitors prospered greatly and were highly influential.  

              NOTABLE PORTUGUESE SLAVE TRADERS IN LAGOS
 
The list of the Portuguese slave traders in Lagos is enormous but among those that are remembered are Damingo Jose, who was a highly influential slave dealer and was among those that Oba Akitoye sought help from when he was deposed by his nephew, Kosoko in Lagos.
Lecqi, was another slave trader who owned a Pit slave Barracoon in Lekki, and others includes, Nobre, Lima, and Marcos and they owned large slave barracoons on the eastern spit of Lagos and on the 30th Nov. 1851, a successful attack was made on these slave depots as they were burnt down by Consul Beecroft.
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