Tuesday, February 17th, 2009
Just in case you thought Michael was the only crazy Jackson, here comes his brother Marlon with the most appalling notion of “edutainment” I’ve heard in a long time: a 3.4 billion dollar resort with a golf course, casinos, a slavery museum (complete with replica slave ship) and a Jackson Five museum all on the site of one west Africa’s Middle Passage ports.
Badagry, Nigeria, was formerly a slave port and is currently a tourist destination with an important museum documenting the trade.
“The Jackson Family had been looking for a place to site their memorabilia collection for some time,” says Gary Loster, a former mayor of Saginaw, Michigan, and chief executive of The Motherland Group.
“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.”
The Motherland Group, incidentally, includes the creator of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, so there’s a recommendation for you.
As disgusting as it is, it’s likely to provide an enormous number of jobs for the locals, perhaps as many as 150,000, it’s a plum prize to dangle. Still, I like how writer Toyin Falola put it:
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.
Even looked at purely from an investment standpoint, it’s risky business. Nigeria isn’t exactly a placid country, and you can’t even get a visa without a letter of recommendation. These developers are going to have to make major changes to the government and infrastructure of the country to get anything like the number of paying guests they project.
I’m just going to rock myself and hope the new museum will at least contribute something of historical value to the area instead of exploiting human misery for profit in the most hideously ironic way.