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Badagry Festival: Governor Sanwo-Olu Solicits African Diaspora Support for Development


Governor of Lagos State , Babajide Sanwo-Olu has called on Africans in diaspora to collaborate with the government to harness their skills, knowledge and experience in developing Africa.

He made the appeal during the Diasporal Festival which is an annual cultural renaissance event held in Badagry to reflect the significance of the ancient town during the slave-era.

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The Festival which was launched in 2017 celebrates the identity, culture, history, heritage and tradition through cultural resources of History artefacts, monuments and environmental ambience of the homeland.

The theme for this year’s festival is” The Fourth Door of Return Experience” and it was held from 19th-21st October,2023.It depicts a unique experience of historical and cultural reconnection to the motherhood.


Governor Sanwo-Olu in his address described the ordeal our ancestors went through as an emotional one and a dark chapter in our history and painful past.He explained that the event is a symbolic welcome back of African descendants all over the world who were captured by slave trade.

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He said” We appreciate the Federal Government for standing by us in this journey and partnering with for this important celebration of the 4th door of return ceremony. Sadly, our ancestors were taken from their Homeland and sold into slavery and this is emotional for us. The first exit of our ancestors through slave trade no doubt is a dark chapter in our history and a painful past. It is also a chapter that emphasized the resilience, dexterity and strength of the black man .Despite and in spite of the scars of slavery, the black race stands tall, bold ,strong and confident, making significant contributions to our world today” .

 

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” We are grateful to God that our past has not been able to put us in the past as we journey together with other co-pilgrims in this world to create a better world for everyone. We are black ,we are great, we are beautiful, we are strong and united in love .We have filled the nations .We are committed and passionate to build a better world for you and me in the lyrics of the black musical legend, our very own Bob Marley”.

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Governor Babajide however, expressed his gratitude to delegates from diaspora led by Dr. Julius Garvey and Delois Blakely.

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“This year’s door of return ceremony is remarkable as it marks the 400th anniversary of the first arrival of the enslaved Africans. It is a symbolic welcome back of our people of African descent who were captured by the slave trade. I thank you for crossing many waters and seas to be here and for your non daunting commitment to Africa and your dedication to the preservation of our heritage value and culture. I assure you that as a government , we will continue to extend our hands of brotherhood to all our brothers and sisters, kings and queens across the globe .I encourage our brothers and sisters in diaspora to join us in building the Africa of our dreams. You have the skills, knowledge, experience and wherewithal that will help us to achieve our goal and this we believe is achievable”.

In her welcome address, Dr. Abike Dabiri-Erewa , Chairman of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) revealed that the delegates from the globe can possess a Nigerian passport aside their national passport as Badagry is also their home.

” We are happy that you are here , and we are glad that you are back home. I expect that you all carry Nigerian passport from now alongside your national passport. Badagry is home to us all .We hope to see you soon and we promise to take you around the other parts of Lagos”.

Mrs Toke Benson, Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism Arts and Culture in her remarks said the slave trade returnees have come back home to build a Diaspora Palace in Badagry and invest in Nigeria.

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” It is nice to receive you home . When we started this in 2017, we did not know what was going to happen but we are glad that it will grow bigger and better. No treasure should be hidden. This treasure will be open to the world .Let’s showcase our country to the world through our brothers and sisters whose forefathers were taken away as slaves .As we open this door of return, they have not just returned home but they have come to invest in Nigeria. They want to build a Diaspora Palace in Badagry”.

The participants of the Door of Return emphasized that the slave trade era was really a tough time for Africans and they have realized that we are brothers and sisters irrespective of our race, colour or identity.

Dr. David Anderson, Founder and Senior Pastor of Bridgeway Community Church, a Multicultural Church in Colombia who was honoured with the title , Chief Mautin of Badagry by the Akran of Badagry said ” we have been separated for generations but God brought us back so that we can be reunited and it is a joy to come back from the African diaspora”.

On his part, Dr. Julius Garvey, founder of Marcus Garvey Institute and the son of a Philanthropist and activist, who gave himself for freedom said they have never stopped fighting for freedom.He was honoured with the title of Ajigo of Badagry.

His words” I have been made a Chief and I will fulfill my obligations to the people of Badagry. According to my title , I want you to know that when our ancestors left the continent of Africa ,we never stopped fighting against slave trade. We fought against the slave masters on the ship in the Caribbean, America, South America ,North America. Nobody freed us. We have been building independent States. My father never made it but I am here and I am here because of the spirit of Africa.Those of us that are now at home have to work together because my father believed in the redemption of Africa and that legacy has been passed through each and every one of us. We must rebuild Africa”.

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In an interview with JournalNG, Badagry Local Government Chairman, Hon Onilude Olusegun said the Door of Return brings Nigerians back to memory lane of when our people were taken as slaves and the commemoration is not in Badagry alone but in Nigeria entirely.

” The Door of Return signifies freedom. Our people that were taken as slaves have been serviced for a long time and some of them have found their way back. They have acquired new knowledge. Some of them came back rich and they have integrated themselves quickly. Some people came from other countries and they have traced their origin to Africa. They have come with a lot of goodies. Some of them have plans to invest in Nigeria. We are creating a platform for them to come and link every part of Nigeria.They have met at governmental level and discussed.They have promised us development and we will soon start seeing the ripple effects”.

In the same vein, Hon. Hunsu Oluwasegun, Supervisor for Tourism Badagry, said “this event is a very significant one in Lagos State ,Nigeria and West Africa. The 4th of Return signifies the return of our forefathers that have been sold through slavery in the past. The door was closed but now, the door is opened and they have returned back to their father land. We are grateful to Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa the initiator of NIDCOM and Dr. Babatunde Mesewaku co-intiator of this event for his impact. We also appreciate Governor Sanwo-Olu who gave us total support”.he said.



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