West Africa is creating a Theme Park of sorts based on slavery.
They are creating the Marina Project in Ouidah, a coastal town in the Republic of Benin in West Africa. This is a vast memorial and tourist complex that is currently under construction.
The country hopes to market itself as a major destination for Afro-descendant tourists. Neighboring Nigeria and its population of 220 million potential visitors also make serene and diminutive Benin an enviable location for large-scale tourist attractions.
This development is taking place on the waterfront, once the main slave port for the Bight of Benin.
From this region, almost two million enslaved Africans departed during the transatlantic slave trade. At its height, from the 1790s to the 1860s, Ouidah was controlled by the kingdom of Dahomey.
The future complex will include a hotel spa, a life-size replica of a slave ship, memorial gardens, a craft market, and an arena for vodun performances. Vodun is a religion practiced in Benin and among the descendants of enslaved Africans in the US, Haiti, and beyond.
Slave heritage tourism in Africa caters mainly to the interests of foreign visitors, especially descendants of enslaved Africans in North and South America and the Caribbean region.
Several Unesco world heritage centres curate these legacies for tourists: Gorée island (Senegal), slave castles (Ghana), and Stone Town (Tanzania). To be sure, tourism development was always part of the slave route project, even before Unesco.
In Ouidah, tourism infrastructures are concentrated, forgiveness, through ritual atonement and commemoration, is sought publicly. So, the Marina Project will work out well here.
The presence of another area like this, in particular, has been important for tourists who are eager to imagine and enact their roots.
What do you think? Would you ever visit a Park based on slavery? Let us know in the comments.