Jackson Five "Slave Tourism" trap?
age last updated at 00:14 GMT, Monday, 16 February 2009 E-mail this to a friend Printable version
Jacksons star in Nigeria resort row
BBC News, Nigeria
Visitors can contemplate the horror of slavery from their luxury rooms
One of pop superstar Michael Jackson's brothers, Marlon, is involved in a controversial plan to develop a $3.4bn (£2.4bn) slavery memorial and luxury resort in Badagry, Nigeria.
The historic slave port is to be transformed through the bizarre combination of a slave history theme park and a museum dedicated to double Grammy-winning pop-soul group the Jackson Five.
The idea is that the band will help attract African-American tourists keen to trace their roots back to Nigeria.
The men behind the plan say it will honour the history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and provide employment opportunities for Nigerians.
But the plan has been condemned by Nigerian commentators.
The African-American history trail is worth billions of dollars, the developers say.
Ghana and Senegal have successfully turned slave ports into tourist attractions.
The Jackson Five got discos moving in the 1970s and the 1980s
The developers say the Badagry Historical Resort will be marketed to African-American tourists as a mixture of luxury tourist attractions and historical education. Visitors will be able to see the route their ancestors walked, shackled together as they were whipped toward the "point of no-return".
They can then retire to their five-star hotel to drink cocktails by the pool.
Visitors will be able to pay their respects at the site of a mass grave for those who died before boarding ships across the Atlantic Ocean.
And then travel a few yards in a buggy to play a round of golf.
They can visit a replica slave ship to see the conditions Africans suffered, before visiting the world's only museum dedicated to the memory of the Jackson Five.
Academics believe around 10m people died during the trans-Atlantic slave trade between 1600 and 1900.
The Jackson's upbeat tunes like ABC and Blame it on the Boogie enlivened US and UK discos throughout the 1980s.
On display at the museum will be animatronic vignettes of the band, memorabilia and "holographic displays" of the group that launched the career of Michael Jackson, after their split in 1989.
'The right place'
"The Badagry Historical Resort development project will certainly enhance the quality of life for millions of people across Nigeria," promotional material for the resort says.
It's like dancing on the graves of dead people and telling them you're honouring them
C Don Adinuba
But critics have dismissed the project as a cynical money-making scheme, inappropriate for the subject of such seriousness as the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
The idea to bring together slavery and the Jackson Five came during a visit to Nigeria by US businessmen and former Jacksons singer Marlon Jackson.
"The Jackson Family had been looking for a place to site their memorabilia collection for some time," Gary Loster, a former mayor of Saginaw, Michigan and CEO of The Motherland Group says.
"We visited the site of the slave port in Badagry and Marlon turned to me and said: 'Let's put it here, this is right'".
"It's such an emotional place, and I think we all felt that it was the right place to have the Jackson family memorial."
But respected writer and historian Toyin Falola has condemned the project.
"It is not appropriate from a cultural or historical point of view, those who are looking for money care about money and no other thing," he said.
THE SLAVE TRADE
Trans-Atlantic slave trade ran between 1650 and 1900
About 10.2m slaves arrived in America from Africa
35% came from the Niger River area
10-20% died on the journey
An estimated 4.5% died in slave ports like Badagry
The professor of history at the University of Texas and author of many books on the Nigerian diaspora and African-American history, said the development was exploiting painful history. "Money-making and historical memory are allies in the extension of capitalism. You cry with one eye and wipe it off with cold beer, leaving the other eye open for gambling," he said.
Writer, columnist and PR consultant C Don Adinuba said if the resort was being built by a company run by a white person, there would be uproar.
"This plan is morally reprehensible, it's like dancing on the graves of dead people and telling them you're honouring them."
The developers say they will treat the slave memorial with sensitivity.
They hope it will become a "historical destination" similar to the Holocaust museum in Berlin.
The luxury hotels near the site will provide jobs and development to the local economy, they say.
The developers, who include the creator of the hit TV series Power Rangers, have ambitious plans for the resort.
The Motherland Group says their resort alone will pull in 1.4m visitors in the first year alone, rising to 4.4m in five years.
But that would represent an incredible increase.
Mr Loster says they will have to work with the government to change some of the bureaucratic restrictions on tourists if their project is to attract the numbers it needs.
Currently fewer than 300,000 tourists visit Nigeria in a year, they say.
It is impossible to get a visa without a letter of invitation.
Flights to Nigeria are expensive, and there is little tourist infrastructure to cater for European or American consumers when they get there.
And then there is the country's reputation as a chaotic and violent place.
Mr Loster admits their projected figures are "aggressive".
"We know the problems facing us, we have visited Nigeria several times," he said.
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LMAO @ the inventor of the "Power Rangers" having a role in this too.
this is too much to digest.
THE FUCKING POWER RANGERS?! AHGAHAHahahAHah
THIS IS THE MOST NIGERIAN SHIT I'VE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE! AHGAHAhahahAHH12!!1 THEY WOULD!
lol god, nigerians suck at tourism i swear. Why the fuck are you gonna wanna go to a depressing ass resort LMAO! niggas is theming their shit over atlantis and fucking the sphinx and shit and your theming yours on slavery? LMAO!
i mean, dont get me wrong, that place looks bitchin, but come on?
Nigeria should give up on the tourism industry. After like 50 roads called "Tourism road" you should get the hint that it's not your thing.
nigerians are trendsetters
i'm convinced! i'm buying a family ticket
Originally Posted by CharlesJones
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Originally Posted by STYLE