Slave Route project reunites Jacksons with their Badagry root
By Anote Ajeluorou
ACTIVITIES will commence tomorrow, Saturday, August 22, 2009 for the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the ‘International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition’ in the ancient slave port of Badagry. This year’s celebration will assume a distinct dimension as the famous Jackson’s family has identified the ancient town, famous for slave trade in the 18th century as their place of ancestral origin.
To this end also, an oracular pronouncement has identified Alaga, a sub-tribe from Egun in Badagry as the home of the Jackson’s from the Ajanemusan family (shortened ‘Ajanesan’). This was revealed in a world press conference, which the organising committee for the Badagry Folk Festival addressed on Tuesday at the Badagry Local Government Council Secretariat, Ajara, Badagry.
As a result, the late music superstar is now called Michael Jackson Ajanesan in Badagry. According to a traditional priest from the Egun community, the fame that Michael Ajanesan attained in the US had long been foretold by the deity to which the family belonged as Michael Ajanesan was a deity himself. He claimed that it was only a god that could perform the feat that Jackson Ajanesan attained in life, and that he deserved to be given proper traditional rite of passage to join his ancestors peacefully.
And to properly accord their late superstar kinsman the burial rites befitting of a god, his yoko or spirit will be ritually invoked in the form of sand particles taken from his graveside and brought to a shrine or yoho for ritual internment. It is from this yoho that the necessary rites of passage will be performed to lay his spirit to rest among his ancestors from which the Ajanesans, taken into slavery these several years will again be reconnected to their kin.
Giving an account of how this bit of history was reconstructed to trace the Jacksons family back to Badagry, Special Adviser on Tourism at the Badagry Council, Hon. Prince Yomi Ajose gave account of his meeting with Marlon Jackson in Michigan, US, back in 1996. He stated that then it appeared as a haunch to the superstar’s elder brother, who said he strongly felt that his ancestry was from Badagry. He was to match his belief with action when he made a dramatic visit to Badagry in 2008.
At that visit, Jackson undertook to visit the infamous slave trade route. On getting to the Point of No Return, Prince Ajose recalled, “Marlon became hysterical beyond words. And at the spot where slaves were buried alive, where no grass or tree has grown ever since, Marlon completely broke down”. These manifestations became the first intimations that the Jacksons had their roots from Badagry. But beyond a possible DNA test to finally confirm this assertion, Prince Ajose also stated that with the consent of His Majesty De-Wheno Aholu Menu-Toyi, the Akran of Badagry, the oracle was consulted to resolve the Jacksons ancestral link.
It did; hence the Ajanemusan connection to Alaga at Egun.
The theme for this year’s celebration is ‘Family Reunion’. For the people of Badagry, this year’s remembrance day is significant as it will reunite them with their long lost kinsmen, particularly Michael Jackson Ajanesan, whom Prince Ajose said had personally pledged to visit Badagry after the proposed London show, which did not materialise before he passed away in a heart-attack that is still shrouded in suspicious circumstances.
Now instead of receiving Michael Ajanesan in person to perhaps give further historical significance to the ancient sleepy town, it is only his yoko that will be received. But to Badagry people, such is life. Whether in death or alive, they are treating the event with so much emotional attachment, particularly the reunification with a part of the Diaspora.
The Badagry people are also thrilled that at last the Lagos State Government has finally recognised the historical and tourism significance of the town and was deploying resources to developing them. The long neglected ‘Slave Route’ will now receive attention and plans are underway towards developing it into an international resort and tourism centre. Work has started at the Marina Beach line. Lekki Beach Resort Limited, a sports and recreation developer has started work to transform it into a world class golf course.
The Jackson Ajanesan family is not left out either in this quest to turn international attention to this otherwise sleepy town with a lot of history behind it. With their Motherland Group Inc, USA, the Jackson Ajanesan family, according to Prince Ajose and Sunday Balogun, who represented the Badagry Local Council chairman, Hon. Husitode Moses Dosu, are partnering with the Lagos State Government to build the Badagry Historical Resort that will also include the Michael Ajanesan Museum, where memorabilia from the late superstar will be kept.
The Badagry Folk Festival will add colour to the commemorative event that is a collaborative work of Badagry Local Government, African Renaissance Foundation and Ijinla Tours. The Badagry Folk Festival will include activities such as Zangbeto festival in Ajido, Vothun festival in Ajara, Water Sports in Gbaji and Royal Carnival procession in Badagry will mark highlights of the celebration.
However, the traditional funeral rites for the late Michael Ajanesan will start on Saturday 22, 2009 starting from 6am. A candle light procession will commence at 9pm of the same day in memory of the slaves, who were forcibly taken away from their homelands to unknown destinations. The following day Sunday 23, a drama presentation Wailing from Badagry will be performed at the Badagry Town Hall from 3pm to end with a lecture on slave trade. The drama is the initiative of African Renaissance Foundation. The celebration will finally climax on Saturday 29, 2009 at the Badagry Grammar School playground with a cultural exhibition, musical performance and book presentation.
A statement from the council chairman read, “This year’s celebration christened ‘Family Reunuion’ is the 10th celebration since 1999 of this programme and it is dedicated to the repose of the spirit and soul of one of Africa’s legends Michael Joseph Jackson (Ajanesan), whose ancestors have their roots in Badagry and are spiritually attached to us. A mega tourist resort known as the Badagry Historical Resort will be constructed in Badagry by members of the Jackson’s family and some prominent African Americans. We are once again joining countries of the world in celebrating the UNESCO declared International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition (every August 23) with a series of activities including the Badagry Folk Festival”.
Prince Ajose lamented the long awaited development of the Slave Route in Badagry into a world heritage site. He stressed that while those in other parts of West African coastlines such as Ghana and Senegal had been developed and were contributing meaningfully to the economies of those countries, the one in Badagry, perhaps the most famous, was yet to enjoy similar status. The result being that the town is as impoverished as was possibly during the slave era. He maintained that the late realisation of the potentials of the Badagry Slave Route, and consequent action being taken to redress it were due to the nation’s reliance on oil as the sole foreign exchange earner for the country. He expressed happiness at the late attention the ancient town was enjoying from the international arena, saying that though long overdue, it would finally put Badagry at her rightful historical place.
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July 24, 2009
Marlon Jackson is in Nigeria (talks about Michael)
Filed under: Uncategorized — bhullarg24 @ 5:44 pm
Michael Jackson’s older brother Marlon was in Lagos, Nigeria, on Wednesday, July 22 and had an interactive session with journalists at the press centre of the International Airport. He was received by former Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN) presidents, Tee Mac Omatshola and Bolaji Rosiji.
The event began with a short musical performance by Debina Abraham, a Michael Jackson impersonator and up-and-coming artiste who performed a song he had specially composed for the late pop icon.
Jackson, who was visibly still mourning, dressed in a yellow track suit and black shades, briefly expressed gratitude for the kind words and condolences shown his family. While speaking on the Badagry Historical Project, which he was working on, he revealed that his late brother had a special interest in it.
“Michael was interested in the Badagry project because he had never been to Nigeria and looked forward to the completion of the project because he wanted to come and see things for himself”.
He also added that it was imperative that the historical artefacts such as those in Badagry be preserved, so that the generation yet unborn will get an opportunity to appreciate the sufferings of our forefathers who were part of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.
The Niger-Delta issue also came to the fore at the event and Jackson said he looked forward to a peaceful resolution of the crisis and was willing to meet with the Nigerian government and representatives of the Niger Delta militants, in order to reach an amicable understanding between both parties.
Tee Mac also intimated journalists of plans to stage a major charity concert which will be held on Michael Jackson’s birthday, August 29.
“It is going to be one of a kind African affair; a gathering of major African and Nigerian artists. It is basically to celebrate the life and achievements of one of the world’s greatest entertainers. Proceeds form the event will be channelled to major charities around the world as advised by Marlon.”
Tee Mac also added that the celebration will be an annual event.
When asked if his late brother had converted to Islam before his death during the Q&A session, Marlon said he wasn’t aware of that as all he knew was that his brother was a Christian until he died. He also hinted that the Jackson 5 had considered touring together once more before Michael’s untimely death. He said that what was primary to the Jackson family was to provide a secure future for his late brother’s children.
On circumstances surrounding Michael’s death, he said the family was not going to comment on that since the case was still being investigated.
The lingering PMAN crisis seems to be far from over as not only was the body absent at the event but all attempts by this reporter to get either Bolaji Rosiji or Tee Mac’s comment on why the body was not present at the gathering proved abortive.
Rosiji however said, “these are the kind of things PMAN should be doing but they are not here. When I was the PMAN president I used to organized a legends night, where we celebrated some of our late music icons like sunny okosuns and Oliver de Coque.”
Marlon left after about 20 minutes saying he had another appointment to catch up with. However Tee Mac hinted that Marlon will brief the press one more time before he leaves Nigeria.
“As you know my family is still mourning and hurting over the death of my brother and it is something that I will learn to live with. I want to tell a little story. I was here in May, 2009 and went back to the United States of America (USA) on May 14 and that same day, my family had a function for my mother and father and the entire family, including Michael Jackson, was there. That was the last time I saw my brother alive,” Marlon said.
Marlon added that Michael had promised him that he would come to Nigeria to see the project he is undertaking in Badagry.
His words: “He knew I had just come back from Nigeria and he asked what I went to do in Nigeria because he had never visited Nigeria and I told him about the historical Badagry project that we are doing in Nigeria and he felt the same way I felt; he felt that the project must be done because it is imperative that we understand what our forefathers and fore mothers went through.
“He looked forward to the finishing of the project because he wanted to come and see it and I assured him that we would get the project done. The only thing is that when we do finish this project he will not be there physically, but he will be there in spirit.”
Marlon also revealed that his organistaion, Study Peace Foundation, has resolved to wade into the Niger Delta crisis and negotiate peace between the militants and the Federal Government
According to him, the group, and managers of the Study Peace Foundation would work towards reaching a peaceful resolution on the Niger Delta crisis.
Another sibling of Michael Jackson has come forward to speak about the singer’s sudden death. Marlon Jackson recently told Jet magazine that he believes his brother is finally resting in peace. He admits it has been extremely tough to accept Michael’s passing, but credits prayer and his strong faith for helping him to understand it.
“That’s where I find my comfort because I really do feel that he’s at peace now,” said Marlon. “I feel in my heart that the Lord had to call Michael to come home because he had finished what he wanted him to do on planet Earth.”
He said the entire Jackson family is “still in a state of shock” because “none of us saw this coming.” But they are working though the pain to accept the loss of Michael.