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.
The idea is that the Jackson name will help attract African-American tourists looking to trace their roots back to Nigeria. Organizers believe the plan will honor the history of the transatlantic slave trade and provide employment opportunities for Nigerians.
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.
“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.
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.”
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