GOOD IDEA/BAD IDEA - Marlon Jackson Angers Nigerians With Plan To Build Jackson 5 Museum At Historic Slave Port
This makes a lot of sense.
Um... actually, no... it doesn't! And leave it to a member of the Jackson family to think that it does.
Michael Jackson's brother Marlon is caught up in a controversial plan that will transform the site of an historic slave port in Nigeria into a $3.4 billion slavery memorial that will double as a luxury resort and museum honoring the Jackson 5.
I was with him on the "slavery memorial" part. But he lost me with the "luxury resort" and "museum honoring the Jackson 5" part.
The idea is that the Jackson name will help attract African American tourists looking to trace their roots back to Nigeria.
Oh really? Will it? Does the Jackson name carry that much clout amongst African Americans?
The plan, however, has been criticized heavily by citizens. Critics dismiss it as a cynical money-making scheme, inappropriate for the subject of such seriousness as the transatlantic slave trade, reports the BBC.
One of the dissenting voices belongs a Nigerian historian and writer, Toyin Falola, who states: “This plan is morally reprehensible, it’s like dancing on the graves of dead people and telling them you’re honouring them … “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…”
The developers say the Badagry Historical Resort will be marketed to African-Americans as a mixture of luxury tourist attractions and historical education. Visitors will be able to see the route their ancestors walked before boarding slave ships. They can then retire to their five-star hotel to drink cocktails by the pool.
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).
Visitors will also be able to pay their respects at the site of a mass grave for those who died before boarding ships across the Atlantic Ocean – 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 career of the Jackson 5.
The idea to house the Jackson 5 museum on the sacred site came to Marlon Jackson during a trip to Nigeria.
"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."
Exactly what I would have thought too! Let's build a memorial to me, because I'm so special and wonderful, right on top of a port where my ancestors were stripped of their freedoms, traded as parts for labor, and saw their lives abruptly and brutally ended.
Yes, that makes a lot of sense Marlon!
Ok... so... I'm certainly not naive... ultimately, this is about business, and making money. Arguments in favor say that building this so-called resort will benefit Nigerians, as it will encourage tourism, funneling money into the country's economy. But will it really? Who benefits here? Nigerians or the western investors?
We've seen oil companies like Shell, set up shop in the country, mining it for its minerals, and failing to ensure that Nigeria and Nigerians share in the discovered wealth. Why will this be any different?
I'd like to think that the $3.4 Billion investment could be used in some other more sensible venture. The slavery museum idea is a very good one; but the words "luxury resort" shouldn't be mentioned in the same context.
The Holocaust Museum in Berlin isn't surrounded by "five-star hotels" where visitors can "drink cocktails by the pool;" nor can you travel a few yards in a buggy to play a round of golf, or visit the world's only museum dedicated to the career of the Jackson 5!
Should this site not be upheld as sacrosanct?