A plan to build a massive, $3.4 billion vacation resort development on the grounds of a slave port on the coast of Nigeria — including golf courses, concert halls, casinos and, yes, a museum dedicated to the Jackson Five — is meeting some opposition among the local population.
“It is not appropriate from a cultural or historical point of view,” Nigerian historian Toyin Falola is quoted in the Guardian newspaper as telling the BBC recently. “Moneymaking and historical memory are allies in the extension of capitalism. You cry with one eye and wipe it off with a cold beer, leaving the other eye open for gambling.”
Who’s behind this plan? Marlon Jackson, one of Michael Jackson’s brothers. He says the family has been looking for a site to host its huge collection of memorabilia and after a visit to the Badagry slave grounds on Nigeria’s coast he concluded it was the perfect place.
Now, all this isn’t as tacky as it sounds.
There seem to be real efforts underway to preserve the area’s history and turn it into an educational tourist attraction, and developers say the 1.4 million visitors expected in the Badagry Historical Resort’s first year could be a real boon to the local economy. The resort could eventually bring 150,000 jobs to a pretty impoverished area.
Plans include a multi-million dollar slave memorial, a slave history theme park (perfect for the kids), a five-star hotel and the Jackson Five museum. Developers want to build a life-size model of a slave ship, holograms of the Jackson Five (even scarier than the real thing) and, according to the Guardian, robot versions of 18th-century African musicians, whatever that means.
While you’re deciding whether this is a crazy plan or a good idea, I’ll leave you with this vision for the resort as spelled out by the Guardian:
The development will cater to the country’s growing tourism industry, particularly African-American tourists who wish to trace their Nigerian roots. Visitors will be able to explore the site of the former transatlantic slave trade, honour the hundreds of thousands who died in what were horrific human rights abuses, and then head off for a round of golf or a massage, before gawping at animatronic versions of the siblings who sang ABC and I Want You Back.