After his historic visit to the New Afrika Shrine on Tuesday night, French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday reiterated his mission to collaborate with the Lagos State government in fostering social, economic and cultural growth.
“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 live 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 to be 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…”, Macron said at the official unveiling of Alliance Francaise, a French Cultural Centre in Lagos on Wednesday.
He also stated that 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 the development of infrastructural projects in Lagos.
During his visit to the Shrine which described as an iconic centre for the propagation of African culture, strength and music, the president highlighted the importance of promoting African culture as well as changing the narrative of Africa.
“It is important that we change the narrative of Africa. The 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,” Macron said.
He disclosed plans to host the African Cultural Season 2020 in France, which he said, would be about promoting African culture in Europe, adding that the event was going to 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 organised by Africans, providing what you like and what you have here,” he said.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode who played host was particularly excited about Macron’s visit which he said will break barriers between Nigeria and France as well as foster greater collaboration for economic, social and cultural growth.
“With the exceptional characteristics of our state as the most populous, vibrant and indeed the fifth richest economy on the African continent, Lagos is the undeniable destination for business and pleasure in Africa. The new Lagos experience is being enhanced daily as we continue to create an enduring infrastructural and security architecture for the business of tourism and cultural arts to thrive. This also creates a platform for our local talents to feel a sense of belonging and encouragement.
“Mr. President, this momentous state Visit shall signal the dawn of a new era between France and Nigeria especially for the myriad of talents that have made Lagos their home,” Ambode said.
Macron’s visit featured art exhibition, fashion show, display of Nollywood scenes music performances by dance group, Footprints of David, Yemi Alade, Kenyan Charlotte Dipanda, Femi Kuti, as well as presentation of a painting of Fela to Macron by Governor Ambode, including a pencil frame artwork of Macron done by 11-old old Kareem Olamilekan drawn within two hours.