NIGERIA Part I: The Border

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(This set of posts comprise an addendum for Time and Place 2015-16, accounting for previous travels and events.) 

Nigeria is too big and important and rich and poor and diverse and brilliant and crazy to say much of anything in a few paragraphs. I visited for only a few days in 2012 and you know immediately it’s one of those countries like South Africa, Russia, Brazil or the U.S. that’s just too much of everything to really comprehend without a lifetime of travel and study.

I took a long-distance taxi from a city in Benin to the border where I had to meet another driver who would drive me a few hours to Lagos. An experience was …experienced. I have never seen a border crossing quite like that, just a gigantic shuffle of bikes and motorcycles and dust and hundreds of scuffling shuffling feet and stray dogs and vendors and money-changers. Here and there a big pompous heavily-medaled-beribboned guy with an official stamp gave passports the once over, stamped them or not, and looked for his next victim. He said to me, “Mama, did you bring a gift for your son?” I replied, “No, in my country sons give their mothers gifts, do you have something for me?” He shook his head disgustedly and stamped my passport. Now granted…were I not a little old lady he probably would have tried a little harder for some bills or coins or goods of some kind.

The ride from the border was great with a smart and funny driver who went out of his way to show me anything notable in the countryside like the slave port of Badagry. Here’s a small part of a longer article that looked worth reading.

From The Freeman Institute (http://www.freemaninstitute.com/nigeria.htm)

  During my visit to Nigeria in December, 2001 I toured the town of Badagry and learned 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.

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Free Enterprise is alive and well in Badagry, Nigeria.

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