Although a resort in Nigeria is a good idea and will no doubt bring jobs and tourism to Nigeria, people are not quite sure if the concept behind the resort is in good taste.
Marlon Jackson, brother of Michael and star in his own right as member of the Jackson 5 is involved in a controversial plan to develop a $3.4bn (£2.4bn) slavery memorial and luxury resort in Badagry, Nigeria.
The historic slave port is to be transformed through the bizarre combination of a slave history theme park and a museum dedicated to double Grammy-winning pop-soul group the Jackson Five. The idea is that the band will help attract African-American tourists keen to trace their roots back to Nigeria.
The men behind the plan say it will honor the history of the transatlantic slave trade and provide employment opportunities for Nigerians.
But the plan has been condemned by Nigerian commentators.
Visitors will be able to see the route their ancestors walked, shackled together as they were whipped toward the “point of no return”. They can then retire to their five-star hotel to drink cocktails by the pool. Visitors will be able to pay their respects at the site of a mass grave for those who died before boarding ships across the Atlantic Ocean. And 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 Five.
On display at the museum will be vignettes of the band, memorabilia and “holographic displays” of the group that launched the career of Michael Jackson.
“The Badagry Historical Resort development project will certainly enhance the quality of life for millions of people across Nigeria,” promotional material for the resort says. But critics have dismissed the project as a cynical money-making scheme, inappropriate for the subject of such seriousness as the transatlantic slave trade.
The idea to bring together slavery and the Jackson Five came during a visit to Nigeria by US businessmen and former Jackson’s singer Marlon Jackson.
“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.”
“This plan is morally reprehensible, it’s like dancing on the graves of dead people and telling them you’re honoring them.”
They hope it will become a “historical destination” similar to the Holocaust museum in Berlin.
The luxury hotels near the site will provide jobs and development to the local economy, they say.