Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Badagary Historical Resort
Marlon Jackson is involved in a controversial development to turn a former slave port into a luxury resort that will house a Jackson Five museum, five-star hotel and slavery memorial.
A museum for the Jackson Five is to be built in Nigeria, American developers have announced, as part of a $3.4bn (£2.4bn) luxury resort including concert halls, golf courses, casinos – and a memorial for Africa's former slave trade.
The Badagry Historical Resort, located near Badagry's former slave port, will include a multimillion pound memorial, slave history theme park, five-star hotel and Jackson Five museum. The project is supported in part by Marlon Jackson, one of Michael Jackson's brothers.
"The Jackson family had been looking for a place to site their memorabilia collection," explained Gary Loster, chief executive of the Motherland Group, to the BBC. "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.'"
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.
By promising to attract 1.4 million visitors in the first year, the Motherland Group has pledged to "enhance the quality of life for millions of people across Nigeria", according to promotional materials. They hope to create more than 150,000 jobs by the end of their fifth year.
"It's such an emotional place, and I think we all felt that it was the right place to have the Jackson family memorial," Loster said.
The developers' plans, which include a lifesize replica of a slave ship, holograms of the Jackson Five and robot versions of 18th-century African musicians, are not without their opponents.
"It is not appropriate from a cultural or historical point of view," Nigerian historian Toyin Falola told the BBC. "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."
But Loster, Jackson and the other developers have dismissed these criticisms. "We know the problems facing us," Loster said. "We have visited Nigeria several times."