Freedom Park, Lagos reopens with a blast on its 10th anniversary

Freedom Park, Photo by Theo Lawson
Freedom Park, Photo by Theo Lawson

Freedom Park Lagos, the former colonial prison turned centre for creative expression, has announced the schedule of events to mark its 10th year Anniversary which kicks off from 30 September till 30 October.

The Park constructed to commemorate the nation’s 50th independence celebration in October 2010 and opened by the former governor of Lagos state, Babatunde Fashola with the aim to preserve the history and cultural heritage of Nigerians, was on a six-month suspension of activities due to the Covid-19 pandemic and is now reopening in the wake of the Lagos State Government’s approval.

Freedom Park is reaching out for the support of friends, partners and members of the public to achieve a worthy celebration for this bastion of arts and culture.
The line up of the month-long events are: Pre-Anniversary concert and fireworks – On the eve of Nigeria’s independence and Freedom Park’s 10th birthday, featuring: Edaoto Agbeniyi, Seun Olota, Abiodun Wurasamba Oke, Captain Blazee, Poskii Poskii, Freedom5 Band and friends.

Exhibitions in partnership with the Lagos Philatelic Club and supported by Nigerian Television Authority NTA, Voice of Nigeria VON, Nigerian Postal Service Nipost and Tribune newspapers.

The exhibition celebrates Nigeria’s history as a country, showcasing newspapers from 1960 when Nigeria gained independence, 200 stamps on A4 depicting 60 years of Nationhood, 60 selected stamps with artists impressions about Nigerian History, 60 Nigeria heroes represented on stamps, pictures of the Nigerian Civil War and political history, October 1 editions of Nigeria Tribune from 1960 to date, Voice of Nigeria news script for independence and other key events. Also on display is NTA’s first camera and reel from 1959 still in working condition, with other archival materials from the National Museum and the National Center for Arts and culture.

A series of lectures are to be held:
-Speaker’s corner with Hon. Kunle Alli on history of Lagos,
-Speakers corner with Wole Soyinka on Nigeria and the youth,
-Speakers corner-Youth forum: Our vision for Nigeria.
-Community trade fair (Lagos Island Connect)
-Freedom Park Awards night.

Dramas are: ‘Wats Dis All About’ by Woza Albert performed by One Six Productions, Noel Greg’s ‘Whispers In The Dark’ performed by Crown Troupe of Africa and Esther’s Revenge, the harrowing story of an inmate once held in the same compound (Freedom Park) on death row for most of the 1950s- performed by Paw Studios Nigeria.

A brief history of Freedom Park

Her Majesty’s Broad Street prisons were built in 1871, its iconic walls were imported brick by brick from Britain in 1885. The Colonial report for 1898 indicates that 676 males, 26 females, and 11 juveniles were imprisoned at Broad Street prison for the year.

The prison housed colonial dissents, political prisoners, pirates, robbers, and other misdemeanors. Famous politicians that were inmates include Sir Herbert Macaulay, Michael Imoudu, Obafemi Awolowo, Anthony Enahoro, and many others. It was closed down a hundred years after its construction in 1971. After about three decades of abandonment, plans were drawn up by architect Theo Lawson with Lagos state government approval to transform the site into a creative space with Food courts, a museum, galleries, concert stages, an amphitheater, and several other facilities.

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