Akeelah Bertram - (Dearly) Beloved


(Dearly) Beloved

In 1444 the first ship of abducted, enslaved Africans arrived on the shores of Lagos, Portugal. Returning from the Bay of Aguin (Mauritania) the trade voyage was licensed by Prince Infante D.Henrique (1394 - 1460) also known as Henry the Navigator.

In Lagos town square a statue of Henry the Navigator is the most visible sign of what was once a slave market. During his lifetime Henry the Navigator was entitled to one fifth of all enslaved Africans transported to the town of Lagos.

In 2009 construction work outside the old town wall unearthed the bodies of 158 enslaved African men, women and children, discarded like objects in the medieval town rubbish dump.

Today a mini golf course and car park are the only landmarks to signify the resting place of these unfortunate souls. 

(Dearly) Beloved is a memorial to the enslaved Africans discarded without ceremony in medieval rubbish dumps and mass graves in Lagos and Lisbon.

The works transparent, twisted figures are forged in direct contrast to the heavy, permanent statues celebrating slave traders in towns and cities throughout Europe. This distorted, complex history must find a way to exist beyond a simplified narrative.