Emmanuel Macron Parties At Fela Kuti’s New Afrika Shrine In Nigeria

by Bamidele Ogunberu Posted on July 4th, 2018

Lagos, Nigeria: France President Emmanuel Macron shook up his two day visit to Nigeria with a stop at the New Afrika Shrine, a concert hall founded by the late music legend Fela Kuti where partying Nigerians gather, though the usual gyrating dancers and marijuana were absent.

Macron, who was an intern in Nigeria at age 23, used the colorful evening at the Lagos nightclub to launch the 2020 Season of African Cultures in France. In 2003, 15 years ago Macron was 25, working as an intern at the French Embassy in Lagos.

“What happens in the shrine remains in the shrine,” Macron said to cheers from the crowd.

Responding to questions on why he chose to visit the New Afrika Shrine of popular Afrobeat king, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Macron said the place was an iconic hub.“First, because I wanted to find a good occasion to come back there. I know the place and I have some memories. I think that is such an iconic place for a lot of African people and African culture. Fela, Femi, Seun Kuti are obviously very famous in France and Europe. I mean they are big successes, but the Shrine is a cultural hub, an iconic hub. And it is very important for me, first on a personal level. That is why I want to say with a lot of humility that I recognise the importance of this place. I recognise the place of culture in this current environment.”

Kareem Olamilekan Waris an 11-year-old boy drew a portrait of Emmanuel Macron in less than two hours at the Fela Shrine. “I’m very touched,” French President, Macron said after Kareem Olamilekan presented the portrait to him.

Guests at the Shrine included former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, Senator Ben Murray Bruce and human rights lawyer, Femi Falana.

Falana said the visit showed that a king, referring to the late Fela, is not honoured in his own country.Commending Macron for promoting arts and culture, Falana urged Nigerian artistes and musicians to borrow a leaf from Fela by singing songs that mirror the society and call government to order.Femi Anikulapo Kuti, son of the musician, described the visit as an endorsement of what his father stood for while he lived.

Responding to questions on why he chose to visit the New Afrika Shrine of popular Afrobeat king, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Macron said the place was an iconic hub.“First, because I wanted to find a good occasion to come back there. I know the place and I have some memories. I think that is such an iconic place for a lot of African people and African culture. Fela, Femi, Seun Kuti are obviously very famous in France and Europe. I mean they are big successes, but the Shrine is a cultural hub, an iconic hub. And it is very important for me, first on a personal level. That is why I want to say with a lot of humility that I recognise the importance of this place. I recognise the place of culture in this current environment.”

Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, said the visit would signal the dawn of a new era between France and the state, especially for the myriads of talents that have made Lagos a home.During a special Afrobeat performance for Macron at the Shrine in Agidingbi, Ikeja, Ambode said: “It is with joy that I look forward to deep collaboration with France in our quest to make Lagos the culture and entertainment capital of Africa.”

The French leader also held talks with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on security in Africa’s Lake Chad and Sahel regions.

“France will remain present in the Sahel as long as necessary,” Macron told reporters. France’s Barkhane in West and Central Africa is its largest overseas military operation.

Emmanuel Macron  challenged the Nigerian leader to work towards providing an enabling economic and political environment to help youths to achieve their dreams.

Both leaders signed agreements to facilitate French assistance totalling $475 million for some projects in Lagos, Kano and Ogun States. Specifically, the Lagos deal is a letter of intent for the financing of urban mobility improvement project via a loan of $200 million. This will involve the development of eight priority bus corridors connected to the Lagos mass transit network.

In Ogun State, a French firm in conjunction with the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority is to mobilise from investors about $200 million for land reclamation to correct the massive degradation of arable land being witnessed in the state.The project aims to reforest 108,000 hectares of depleting forest in Ogun, which the state governor, Ibikunle Amosun, hailed as very vital to not only addressing climate change challenges and recreating the forest, but also providing employment to the people of the state, among other benefits.

France, through its foreign development agency, Francaise de Development (AFD), will also extend a credit facility of $75 million towards improving water supply in Kano city. The concessional loan is expected to help the Kano government ensure more residents of the city have access to drinking water, while improving the financial viability of the state water board to increase its revenues.

On Wednesday, the French president inaugurated an Alliance Francaise cultural center in Lagos and met young Nigerian entrepreneurs.

Macron said the centre was part of the measures to scale up the relationship between France and Nigeria. He also assured of the commitment of the government and people of France to development of infrastructural projects in Lagos.

“A celebration of African Culture” performance featured live performances by Femi Kuti and Yemi Alade. The performance was presented by regional bank, Ecobank Nigeria and Trace TV.

Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, noted that the French Cultural Centre and Alliance Francaise have always been an asset to the cultural landscape of Lagos, saying: “I am glad that the French Cultural Centre will now have a befitting and hopefully a permanent home in the heart of our city.”

Author

Bamidele Ogunberu

Bamidele Ogunberu

A prolific writer, Bamidele has worked in generalist and public relations capacities for an energy company before making the cross over into journalism and has never looked back
Phone
Email

Leave a Reply