FRENCH President Emmanuel Macron has told Nigerian youths to be actively involved in politics to change the country’s narrative.
Describing politics as important, the French president said only Nigerians could change their image and that of the country before the comity of nations.
Macron, who was accompanied by Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, threw the challenge Tuesday night when he visited the Afrika Shrine in Ikeja at an event tagged: “Celebrate African Culture”.
The event was attended by former Anambra State Governor Peter Obi, former Ogun State Olusegun Osoba, Prof. Wole Soyinka, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, Fela’s lawyer Femi Falana and others.
Macron noted that the future of Africa and the task of making it great rested with Africans, stressing that the youths have a crucial role to play.
“Africa needs a new generation of Africans to share the new narrative about Africa all over the world,” he said.
According to him, politics is important because it is a tool to change the society. He described the Afrika Shrine as an iconic place of strength, music and culture.
The late Fela, he said, was a politician, who wanted change for the society.
“I am very happy to be here. Let me remind you that this place – Shrine – is a music place as well as politics, which is needed to change the society. So, I will say to the youths, politics is important, be involved.
“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 recognise the importance of this place, I recognise the place of culture in this current environment,” he said.
Macron announced the launch of the 2020 African Cultures Season in France. He said the event would help create a unique face for African culture in Europe.
“I discovered Nigeria and a lot of my friends are here. 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 said.
Macron stressed the need for Africa and Europe, especially France, to build a new commonality.
The African Cultural Season 2020 in France, Macron said, will be about promoting African culture in Europe, adding that the event will be for Africa and by African artistes.
“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 organise by Africans, providing what you like and what you have here,” he said.
Ambode said the President’s visit was expected to signal the dawn of a new collaboration between France and Lagos State in the quest to make the state the culture and entertainment capital of Africa.
The governor said the event was also about celebrating African culture, which was a positive step for France as it sought to rebuild its relationship with Africa.
There were also Art Exhibition, Fashion Show, 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-old old Kareem Olamilekan drawn within two hours.
Highpoints of the night include performances by dance group, Footprints of David, music artistes, Yemi Alade, Charlotte Dipanda from Kenya and a brilliant performance by Femi Kuti to bring the event to a close.
The event presented an opportunity for Macron and Ambode to interact with musicians, artists, fashion designers and film makers.
Macron also yesterday officially unveiled a French Cultural Centre, Alliance Francaise, at Ikoyi, Lagos.
He said the centre was part of the measures to scale up the relationship between France and Nigeria.
The French president assured Nigerians of the commitment of the government and people of France to development of infrastructural projects in Lagos.
Ambode 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 his administration was delighted to host Macron and his visit would also signal a new era between both countries, especially for Lagos where talents in the arts and creative industry abound.