French President Emmanuel Macron has hailed Nigerian Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti, the African culture and the resilience of Africans.
Macron who visited the Afrika Shrine on Tuesday night said the Afrobeat legend was more than a musician and called on those present to emulate him.
“Referring to your father, he was not just a musician. He was, as well, a politician. That is the whole meaning,” Macron told Fela’s children and others at the venue.
“He was a politician because he wanted to change the society. So, if I have just one message for young people here in the Shrine tonight: (it’s) yes, politics is important. Yes, be involved.”
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The French President had arrived at the Shrine from Abuja where he held talks with President Muhammadu Buhari about terrorism, the economy and other issues affecting the country and African continent.
When he arrived at the Shrine, Macron quickly switched into a less formal mood, taking off his suit jacket and tie before announcing the launch of the African Cultural Season and having fun at the live show.
Iconic afrobeat star and Fela’s eldest son Femi Kuti thrilled Macron and other guests with a live performance at the Shrine with the support of fellow African music heavyweights Angelique Kidjo and Youssou N’dour.
Beyond praising African culture, Macron was delighted to be back in Nigeria where served as an intern with the French embassy in 2002. During that stint in Nigeria, Macron had visited the Shrine.
“I’m very happy to be here with you tonight,” he said of his return to the “iconic” venue.
“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 called on Nigerians and Africans to “build a new common narrative” on the continent and to continue to move forward.
“You have to recognise the bad and negative pages of this history, but you have to move forward,” he said.