French President, Emmanuel Macron has said that Fela, Femi and Seun Kuti are very famous in France.
“I mean 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, and that is why I want to say with a lot of humility that I recognize the importance of this place, I recognize the place of culture in this current environment.”
The French President arrived Nigeria on Tuesday, July 3, 3018, aboard French Presidential Jet A330.
He landed at the Presidential wing of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport at about 3:10 pm.
Macron meets Buhari
Briefly after his arrival Macron headed to Aso Rock to pay a courtesy call to President Buhari.
According to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, the French President’s visit would further help to reinforce the French support to Nigeria in the areas of security, trade and cultural ties, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.
Onyeama also said “President Macron is a young president and he is a president that believes so much in the youth.
“So after meeting with Mr president here and signing the MoU, he will be going to African shrine, Lagos, and also engage with the youth in Nigeria.
“He will also be meeting with some of our creative industry to promote greater cultural ties and we are hoping that his engagement with the creative sector of our country will further enhance French-Nigeria cooperation."
Afrika Shrine, symbol of African culture
Macron, while speaking to newsmen described the Afrika Shrine as an important symbol of African culture.
“First, because I wanted to find a good occasion to come back there. I know the place and I have some memories, I have to confess at a time that there was no president around, I hope I will not spoil the party.
“First, I think that is such an iconic place for a lot of African people and African culture. And I think very often when you speak of the African culture in Europe, those who are successful in Europe and in France, which is different most of the times are not dramatically very famous in Nigeria or in Africa. And there is a bias because you know people are absolutely not the same,” he added.
The French President is also expected to be at the official opening of the Alliance Francais building, Ikoyi, while in Lagos state.
Speaking on his fondest memory as an intern in Abuja in 2002, at a live on stage interview, he said "I discovered Nigeria, Lagos, I discovered the shrine. It’s my turning place, a place where the best music exists. Nigerians are proud of their culture and their music. It’s probably why I have a different view of Africa than most people in Europe."
Why I came to Nigeria
When asked why he accepted the invitation to come to Nigeria and his view on colonialism, here's what the French President had to say: "I believe it is time to build a new common narrative together. And this new narrative is not based on what is important to Europeans, but what is important to Africans. They determine what is important to them, they determine what is important to them in their culture. The shrine is important to Africa’s culture and that's why I accepted the invitation.
"You have to recognise the bad deeds and the negatives, but you have to move forward. We have to focus on building the future. European leaders are not here to nurture African leaders. African leaders are responsible for nurturing African leaders. And it is important to let them know that they should build their future not outside, but in Africa," he added.
Macron, in a post on Twitter, said "It's very emotional for me to come back to Nigeria 17 years after my stay. I didn't imagine I’d be back in these conditions."
Macron also announced the launch of the Africa Culture Season 2020, adding that it will be about a new generation of artists in Africa and it will be financed and organised by African businesses.
Changing negative perception about Africa
"It is important to have Africans speaking about Africa. What we need is a new generation of artists, entrepreneurs, civil servants, journalists speaking about Africa all over the world," President Macron said.
The French President encouraged young Nigerians interested in going into politics to participate, adding that it is important.