eXploring, in its seventh episode continues to provide interesting stories, with topics like food, art, even alternative medicine and betting for the football enthusiasts.
In this week’s episode, built from the ruins of Her Majesty’s Broad Street Prisons by Architect Theo Lawson, Freedom Park has become a cultural site and a historical landmark, regularly hosting weekend live plays, art shows and welcoming Nigerian celebrities such as Waje, Bantu, FalzTheBadhGuy, M I, and more for live musical performances.
Most visitors to the park know, at least, one thing: It used to be a prison built by the colonials. But what some fun-seekers might never have realized were the people who were kept as prisoners in the cells.
Setting out to investigate its history and legacy, Zina and Denola visited the park, where they got the opportunity to chat with Deji Rhodes, the Freedom Park’s director. Appearing on ‘eXploring’, Deji revealed that Obafemi Awolowo, during his imprisonment for treason, was kept in one of the 8 by 4ft cells at Her Majesty’s Broad Prisons, where prisoners were given just a mattress and a bucket for their facilities.
A statue of the old premier is currently positioned right beside that same cell block, which Denola understandably found ironic. Other prisoners were Pa Micheal Imoudu, the first president of the Nigeria Labour Union, Herbert Macaulay, imprisoned on the charges of money laundering, and Esther Johnson, a woman who was imprisoned for allegedly killing her white boyfriend.
Through the conversation between the hosts and their guests, it was easy to detect the historical symbolism from Using the pictures hanging on the walls of the museum, Deji also pointed out the gallows, a place of punishment, which is now used as a platform to celebrate art and life through live stage performances of music and theatre.
Right on the spot where the prison kitchen used to be, is the Freedom Park’s Food Court, the Warden’s office is now Freedom Park’s Admin office, and the space for hosting guests now occupies what used to be the prison hospital. In addition to these photos on the wall was the old map of Lagos, drawn in 1885 by a W. T. C Lawson, who coincidentally, turned out to be a relative of Theo Lawson, the architect who designed the Freedom Park. Interestingly, as revealed by Deji Rhodes on eXploring, right beside Freedom Park on Broad Street is the first six-story building in Nigeria.
Zina captured this 25-minute experience by saying, “there are places that people literally think is just a building, and not knowing that there is a story behind it”. Next time you walk your city, you should find out its history. There might be stories that would reveal a whole new side to it.
Catch Zina Anumudu and Denola Grey on eXploring – the most interesting, innovative and entertaining show about your city, every Wednesday from 7:05 to 7:30pm on ONTV.