Michael Jackson’s brother planning ‘slavery theme park’
Michael Jackson’s brother has come under fire for plans to invest in a £2.4 billion plan to build a luxury resort and slavery theme park in Badagry, Nigeria, a historic port town that was the last departure point for thousands of slaves leaving Africa at the height of the transatlantic trade in humans.
By Nick Wadhams in Nairobi
The Badagry Historical Resort development
Marlon Jackson, a former member of the Jackson Five, is involved in plans to build the Badagry Historical Resort Development Project, which would feature a memorial and a museum about slavery.
But some historians have condemned the project, which would include a theme park with a slave ship replica, along with casinos, shops, a golf course and condominiums.
The resort would also house memorabilia from the glory years of the Jackson Five, the classic Motown group known for hits including "ABC" and "I Want You Back".
The development group has said it hopes that the band will help attract African-American tourists keen to trace their roots back to Nigeria.
"This will be an adventurous ride giving you an historical overview of African music. From hologram images, concert footage, a state of the art recording facility, to robotic figures displaying the rhythmic beats from 300 years ago where music began leading up to the biggest African group in the world, The Jackson Five," says literature from the investment group behind the plan, called The Motherland Group (TMG).
But critics have said that the project is exploiting a painful history.
"This plan is morally reprehensible, it’s like dancing on the graves of dead people and telling them you’re honouring them," C Don Adinuba, a writer and PR consultant, told the BBC.
Visitors would be able to visit a replica slave ship and walk the route their shackled ancestors walked before playing a round of golf or relaxing by a pool.
"The Badagry Historical Resort Development Project of Nigeria in essence can become the newly desired and sought-after vacation destination of the world," the group said.
The group has claimed that the slavery theme will help draw tourists and emphasised that its goal is to make Nigeria a "major world player" in African tourism. Gary Loster, former mayor of the city of Saginaw, Michigan, who is involved in the project, said the group hopes that the project can eventually be turned over to Nigerian owners.
South Africa, the tourism leader on the continent, draws about 6 million visitors each year – about 20 times more than Nigeria.
According to TMG, tourists would spend at least £285 million in the resort’s first year.