Old Slave Market in Lagos
By Contested Histories Initiative •
Hiding in plain sight in Lagos’ central square lies the Antigo Mercado de Escravos, the Old Slave Market, which hosts a unique museum. The building is situated in the square–formerly a beach–where enslaved people would once have been bought and sold, along with other goods such as ivory and Malagueta pepper transported back from the west coast of Africa. Today, the museum acknowledges the city’s unsettling past as Europe’s first port to which enslaved people from West Africa were deported. The museum has been the subject of increasing controversy over the past few years, particularly in the wake of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. However, such incidents of contestation remain largely undocumented. This case probes the efficacy of the museum’s engagement with its subject matter and questions the decision-making processes surrounding its managerial history and recent restoration.