At first I was sceptical, it was a short stay in Lagos and I had a task to conquer two leisure locations in a day before my return to Port Harcourt. I set out to Google to research on the fun places in Lagos to achieve my goal and came up with Freedom Park and Oniru Beach as my most preferred option with respect to time calculations and traffic considerations to avoid missing my flight scheduled for the same day.
Whilst Oniru beach was a regular overpopulated beach on that sunny day, Freedom Park gave me an unexpected unique experience I didn’t know I was seeking.
Freedom Park is Born out of the ruins of Her Majesty’s Broad Street Prisons, and was reconstructed to preserve the history and cultural heritage of the Nigerian People. Freedom Park Lagos is a National Memorial, Historical Landmark, Cultural Site & Arts and Recreation Centre.
It was a sunny Sunday, on the 29th of December, 2019.
I Entered the gate with zero expectations, paid an entry fee of N200 per person (further reducing my expectations to a negative, given I just paid N1000 after enduring a long and overbearing queue to enter a beach that I couldn’t enjoy a sec of calm because of the population and beehive of activities). Casually told my uber driver that this would be quick.
Well, I was awestruck and schooled!
With the peaceful atmosphere, it’s mix of art and nature intertwined to tell a story about my country Nigeria, each piece of art represented a notable cultural heritage and the peaceful scenery screams Home and Relaxation.
One can so easily get lost in it’s euphoria and forget the clanging of chains and stench of death from despair and execution by hanging, emanating from the ghosts of the first prison, ‘Her Majesty’s Broad Street Prisons’, a maximum security prison were political prisoners and anti colonials were kept, it was initially built with mud and thatch roofs but later reconstructed with bricks worth 16000 pounds, as a result of the frequent fire outbreaks caused by protesters, the Prison was established after Lagos state was conquered as a colony by the British navy in 1861.
Freedom park is a pinch of reminder about colonization. ———–
It begs the question, was colonization a choice we made?———–
Did our forefathers do enough to stop it or did a bunch of them aid it for the gains of mirror and alcohol, like we were told?
Given our colonial history, if you think our colonial history had a negative effect, how about the religion that it brought?
Admist the excitement I could observe the coordinated mapping to guide tourists on their exploratory journey:
1. Museum: the museum houses excavated shackles and chains from the demolished prison, preserved and exhibited to give the chilling effects of captivity and a reminder for the appreciation of freedom.
2. The Skeletal Cells: where the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo was incarcerated for 6months before his transfer to Calabar.
3. Hall of Fame: dedicated to the past inmates with their name tags on the wall and remarkable stories leading to the imprisonment of some notable personalities. E.g. Herbert Macaulay, Obafemi Awolowo and an Esther Johnson (Ada Ocha) a female inmate who was sentenced to life imprisonment for stabbing her English boyfriend in Ibadan 1952 for cheating, she spent 3,028 days in jail but was granted freedom by Nnamdi Azikiwe on Independence Day.
4. Main Stage: the Gallows, a structure used for execution of condemned prisoners by hanging, it also had a cell were the prisoners were kept before hanging.
And so much more, all of which held a historic tale that has now been replaced with a celebration and expression of Freedom.
Freedom park is 100 percent recommended for everyone, especially art lovers, historians, peace seekers, couples seeking a nice and relaxing evening, friends hangout, even kids are welcomed. I enjoyed my one hour of bliss at Freedom Park, and while leaving I wished I could could stay even a second longer.
Written by: Amarachi
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