*Unveils French Cultural Centre in Lagos
President of France, Mr. Emmanuel Macron, has said that the Shrine, home of the late Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, is an iconic centre for the propagation of African culture, strength and music.
Macron stated this during an historic visit to the New Afrika Shrine in Agidingbi, Ikeja, Lagos, on Tuesday night.
He said “I discovered Nigeria and a lot of my friends are here. I discovered Nigeria and I discovered Lagos and I discovered the Shrine. This place is an iconic place and it is a place where the best of music is given.
I have to say my main memories about this place are friends, proud people, proud of their culture, proud of their art and music. I have a very different view of Africa than a lot of other people in Europe.”
He stressed the need for Africa and Europe, especially France, to build a new commonality, adding that “this new commonality is not based on what is important for Europeans but what is important for Africa; about their culture, how they build their culture and promote the culture, and which places are important for them about their culture.
Being here, I do recognise their culture and respect their views. This place is important for Africa and their culture and that is why I am here.”
In this vein, the French President disclosed plans by his country to host the African Cultural Season in 2020. This, he said, would be about promoting African cultural heritage in Europe, adding that the event was going to be for Africa and by African artistes.
According to him: “It will include people with fashion, African movies, new generation of artistes will be coming from Africa and it will be organised by them to show Europe and France the real culture of Africa.
“The event will be financed by African leaders. It will not be sponsored by France or European businesses, but by African businesses. It is brand new.
This season is a unique one and it will be the new face of Africa in Europe organised by Africans, providing what you like and what you have here.
The French number one citizen, who spoke at an event tagged ‘Celebration of African Culture’, to inaugurate the African Cultural Season 2020, said he was glad to be back to the Afrika Shrine, adding that he still holds fond memories of the place since his first visit back in 2002.
At the official unveiling of Alliance Francaise, a French Cultural Centre in Lagos on Wednesday, Macron said the development was part of the measures to scale up the relationship between France and Nigeria, while also specifically offering the commitment of the government and people of France to development of infrastructural projects in Lagos.
The French President said, “Thanks very much for being here; thanks very much for making this possible and to Mr Governor, we spoke yesterday and this morning together in the car. Going to shrine together yesterday and going to French Alliance now.
It’s much more quiet, much more calm and reasonable but at the end of the day, I think both of us (Governor Ambode and I) did share the same views that we can do tremendous things together.
“Your state – Lagos, is one of the main challenges of not just Nigeria but the whole of Africa. I mean this huge city, there is tremendous challenge about how to make people living together in peace, in a better place and I want France to be part of this story and I do want my country and my people being part of this experience.
It means belonging to same values, sharing cultures, languages, literatures, music, movies, building together projects, having common economic projects and so on, and this eco-system will be not just possible but stronger staying in this place,” Macron said.
Earlier, Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode while welcoming President Macron to the state, expressed optimism that the historic visit will go a long way to break any barriers between Nigeria and France, as well as foster greater collaboration for economic, social and cultural growth.
The governor said the state government was delighted to host Macron, a well respected global leader, adding that it would also signal a new era between both countries, especially for Lagos, where talents in the arts and creative industry abound.
Governor Akinwunmi said, “On behalf of the government and good people of Lagos State, I welcome His Excellency, President Emmanuel Macron, President of France, to the commercial and cultural capital of Nigeria and indeed West Africa.
“We are delighted and honoured to be hosting a President of one of the world’s Super Powers; a permanent member of the United Nation’s Security Council with veto rights, a prominent member of the G-8 and the World Trade Organisation and a champion of Global Climate Change.”
There were also Art exhibitions, fashion shows, display of Nollywood scenes, presentation of a painting of Fela to Macron by Ambode, as well as pencil frame artwork of Macron done by 11-year-old old Kareem Olamilekan, drawn within two hours.
Highpoints of the night include sterling performances by dance groups, Footprints of David, music artistes, Yemi Alade, Charlotte Dipanda from Kenya and a scintillating performance by Femi Kuti, to bring the event to a close.