Macron’s Day at Fela’s Shrine

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SATURDAY POLITY

After years of operating almost in the sublime, though pushed by deliberate policy of government into the backwaters, the undying spirit of Fela Anikulapo Kuti was resurrected by an intern fan now the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, whose visit to the Afrika Shrine has formally imbued it with international recognition, writes Ahamefula Ogbu

It was a vindication of the philosophic axiom that quo sera sera (what would be would be), when after running battles while alive, with vitriolic lyrical renditions of protestations, often scathing truth to power even during the military era that earned him all the effects of jackboots; jails, demise of his mother Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, killed by “unknown soldiers” and destruction of the Afrika Shrine located somewhere near Jibowu, Lagos, then, that recognition of the establishment came from President Emmanuel Macron of France.

If Fela Ransom Kuti were to have witnessed the visit, many jokes, sarcasms and perhaps, lines or songs to accompany it with the signature boldness that feared none would have been a given. It is infact like Macron reinforcing the assertion that “a prophet is without honour in his place”, at least by the establishment. While successive Nigerian regimes sought to destroy it, their counterparts far away had a different appreciation, viewing it from the standpoint of culture and preservation of a people’s way of life which is a rallying point in business.

The appreciation of the need to preserve the ambience was so much on the card of Macron that he feared and hoped the accompaniment of his office would not upset the nature of things so that it would remain as he use to know and have it at the Afrika Shrine.

Dressed in a white shirt with sleeves slightly rolled up on his way from Abuja where he had earlier held talks with President Muhammadu Buhari, who himself as military head of state, had done his bit to leave his scars on Fela, one imagined what the picture would have been if it was our President that was visiting. Ikeja would have been shut down and welter of wounds and bruises would have been the imprint on people that tried to access the area. However, the President of one of the world powers rather than see deviance in the ways of the shrine, reasoned it was a rallying point and sure has plans to make the best out of it for his country.

If Macron wore a bullet-proof, it must have been the singlet or light type that made not only him to be relaxed, but the atmosphere also. The last time President Buhari visited Lagos to inaugurate a bus terminal built by the state, the entire Oshodi-Agege Motor road was closed to traffic, yet, the effect of Macron at the Shrine was very minimal on the lives of those who had things to do in the area.

While he used the opportunity to catch up on his past time relaxation and catching up while on his way up the ladder that has led to the presidency, at the back of his mind was exploiting the rich African culture for business because his idea is to leverage on the followership of the genre of Fela’s music to host a continental jam of music and arts funded by Africa without interference of other cultures like a reformed assimilation policy of his progenitors.

For those of the view that President Macron was just catching youthful fun only, he used the visit to the African Shrine to galvanise the Nigerian angle of a well-thought out programme of African cultural festival in his country. He disclosed plans to host an all African Cultural Season 2020 in France, that would promote African culture in Europe, adding that the event would solely be for “Africa and by African artistes,” even in sponsorship. He was at the shrine to commence programmes of the even through “Celebration of African Culture”, which kick-starts part of the programme that will hold in his country.

“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,” he said.

He further explained about the festival, “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.”

Macron described the new Afrika Shrine in Agidingbi, Ikeja, Lagos, home of late Afrobeat legend Fela Anikulapo Kuti, as an iconic centre for the propagation of African culture, strength and music which held fond memories of his visit to the place in 2002

Reminiscing, 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 craved the need for Africa and Europe, especially France, to build a new synergy, pointing out 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”.

The youthful President of France arrived at the Presidential Lounge of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) where Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, received him. They thereafter headed for the Shrine where he confessed to having memories of the country and the place that would last him a life time, a reason he said he was consciously forging closer ties with English-speaking African nations and Nigeria in particular.

He also spoke of his appreciation of African culture, pointing out that people like Fela and his sons, Femi and Seun, “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 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.”

Charging Africa to exocet from their past and face the present with hope, Macron said, “You have to recognise the bad and negative pages of this history, but you have to move forward while he charged the youth to rise up and be involved in politics while they should explore all avenues to positively impact on development and humanity. He spoke in English and often laced it with pidgin to the admiration and whistling crowd that thronged the venue.

Femi, Afrobeat musician and son of music legend Fela, Yemi Alade and other artistes thrilled Macron and guests. Also, skits by Nollywood actors; Joke Silva, Dakore Akande, Rita Dominic and Ramsey Nuoah, with Macron directing alongside Kunle Afolayan also held.

Macron later attended the unveiling of Alliance Francaise, a French Cultural Centre in Lagos, which he explained was part of the measures to scale up the relationship between France and Nigeria.

The youthful President who rode in the same car to the event with Ambode pledged cooperation with the Governor on how to synergise and make Lagos a better place for people to live in and appreciated his host.

“It’s much more quiet, much more calm and reasonable but at the end of the day, I think both of us 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 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, and this eco system will be not just possible but stronger staying in this place,” Macron told Ambode.

In 1977, ‘unknown’ Nigerian soldiers burned down the concert hall where Fela Kuti performed his Afrobeat genre. He was loathed by military rulers for songs that mocked corrupt officials, criticised colonialism and encouraged Nigerians to question their leaders’ lavish spending. He kept to his convictions and was outspoken till his death in 1997 of ailment associated with AIDS.

Macron’s stint with the shrine dates back to his internship at the French embassy 15 years ago. With the visit, France has become the first country to promote Fela’s music from the seat of power.

Belgium Beats Brazil to Set up France S’final Clash

Duro Ikhazuagbe in Russia

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elgium defeated Brazil 2-1 in Kazan last night to set up the first semi-final clash against France in St Petersburg on Friday at the ongoing 2018 FIFA World Cup here in Russia. It is the Red Devils’ return to the final four for the first time in three decades.

Earlier, France saw off a combative Uruguay side 2-0 in a game the South Americans struggled in the absence of injured Edinson Cavani.

Brazil seized control of the match in the first half of the clash with Belgium, seeing Thiago Silva’s effort hit the post, as the Red Devils rode their luck while relying on the counter-attack.

The Belgians were ahead against the run of play after Fernandinho who replaced suspended Casemiro, deviated a flicked-on corner into his own net.

There was nothing fortunate about the European side’s second. Reminiscent of their on-the-break winner against Japan, Kevin De Bruyne polished off a flawless attack move with a sumptuously struck finish.

The South Americans tried to pile the pressure on their opponents again after half-time but a combination of the excellent Thibaut Courtois and feverish defending proved too much to break down. As the spurned chances stacked up, it was left to substitute Renato Augusto to head home a Coutinho cross to hand Brazil hope.

Belgium refused to fold, however, in the enthralling closing stages, ensuring Roberto Martinez’s side reached the World Cup semi-finals for only the second time in their history.

Earlier, France’s good run continued with the semi-final berth for the first time in 12 years. Los Charrúas made a strong start all the same, with Cavani’s replacement Cristhian Stuani shooting across the face of goal. At the back, meanwhile, La Celeste were their usual organised selves, giving away no space whatsoever.

Seeing more of the ball, France put some good moves together only to struggle in the box, where the Uruguayans were quick to snuff out any danger. Ironically, France’s opener came from a set-piece, habitually one of La Celeste’s strengths, with Raphael Varane glancing a header home from Antoine Griezmann’s pinpoint delivery. The Uruguayans would have equalised on the stroke of half-time but for a miraculous stop from Hugo Lloris, who dived full-length to claw away a Martin Caceres header.

In a bid to turn the game around, Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez rang the changes in the second half, sending on Maxi Lopez and Cristian Rodriguez. Their Russia 2018 hopes came to an end, however, when a Griezmann shot deceived Fernando Muslera and slipped through the keeper’s hands and over the line for the second goal.

Anglican Bishop Rules Out Second Term for Buhari

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he Archbishop of Enugu Ecclesiastical Provence, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Dr. Emmanuel Chukwuma declared yesterday that President Muhammadu Buhari would not get a second term.

The Anglican cleric described the President’s first term as a colossal failure, and gave him 72 hours to get the abducted Dapchi girl released or Aso Rock would be a living hell for him and his family.

Archbishop Chukwuma, who said this while delivering his address at the first session of the seventeenth synod of the Diocese of Enugu tagged ‘Integrity: the Master’s Lifestyle’, accused the federal government of pretending to fight

corruption and of being insincere in the handling of killings by herdsmen.

The cleric said that the Service Chiefs in the country were over-due for change and accused the President of retaining them because of his 2019 agenda.

He said: “We know that he has refused to relieve the service chiefs of their positions because he has a hidden agenda, but God will not allow him for second term.”

The Archbishop said that the continued detention of Dapchi girl, Leah Sharibu was unjust and that it smacked of politics for the federal government to have kept quiet because she is a Christian. He warned that such would no longer be condoned.

He said, “I am giving Buhari ultimatum for 72hours in this synod if the Dapchi girl is not released, the Aso Rock will be in trouble; let them go and note it. We are told that she was held back because she refused to renounce her Christian faith. May the Lord deliver her from their captivity in Jesus Name; if not let the Aso Rock be on fire.”

On the theme of the synod, Chukwuma said, “Integrity which is the Master’s Lifestyle must be very much present in the life of every individual in this country. In this present time, it seems as if integrity has gone down the drain and we are trying to erupt into the conscience of the people that we cannot advance in this country in this political situation if we don’t have that spirit of integrity which also shows a character of honesty, obedience

and sincerity to one another and fear of God.

“It’s very important that as church leaders, as political leaders and family men, we must embibe the character and the characteristics of integrity and if not, then we are living in a very hopeless society. The society is going bizarre and the way things are going nobody is talking about the values of

integrity anymore and we cannot continue this way because of the future of our children.

“Our children are living a life of impunity because they are not seeing any good example in us. Our leaders must know that if we are going to be honest to ourselves for corruption to be stamped out of our society, then we must be conscious of integrity and once integrity is imbibed, we have no cause for any of us to fear about fighting corruption.

“The problem is that everybody feels who is God and what are the consequences; there are consequences when you don’t have integrity and the consequences are destruction, lawlessness, evil and that should not continue.

He, therefore, called on Nigerians and the leaders to make sure that their words can be trusted adding, “let people see us as people who are trust worthy, people who are sincere and people who trust God.”