French President, Emmanuel Macron, will on Tuesday visit the New Afrika Shrine founded by Femi Kuti, son of Nigerian music legend, Fela Kuti – making him the first president to enter the venue.
The New Afrika Shrine located at Ikeja Lagos was built after the original Shrine by the musical maverick, Fela was burnt down in 1977.
“The Shrine is a must-see place,” said Olivier Laouchez, the head of the TRACE media and entertainment group and organiser of the event Macron will attend, adding that Lagos is “Africa’s cultural capital”.
The evening will feature concerts, fashion shows by leading African designers and a meeting with stars from Nigeria’s booming Nollywood film industry.
Macron, who is currently visiting the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott to attend an African Union summit on Sunday, will go on to Abuja (Nigeria’s capital) for talks with his counterpart, President Muhammadu Buhari on security and terrorism, before coming to Lagos.
– The Afrobeat king –
Fela Kuti came from a patrician family whose pioneering music and quest for social justice made him an international star and the bugbear of Nigeria’s former military rulers.
Called the “black president” by adoring fans, Fela Kuti’s trademark style, christened Afrobeat, featured songs in the native Yoruba Language as well as pidgin and were searing indictments of corruption and incompetence.
Ibrahim Tcha-Tchere, a veteran employee of the Alliance Francaise cultural institute in Lagos, said Macron’s visit was fitting given that “France has always had great cultural cooperation with Nigeria.
“It was the French who organised Fela’s first European tour in 1981,” he said.
“Then his sons Femi and Seun launched their international careers in France.”
The shrine is a big hall, painted brown and yellow, with patterns of green, red and black, suggesting African symbolism.
Laouchez joked that organising the event was no cakewalk, saying: “It requires great organisation because there are frequent power cuts and you have to ensure that the ceiling fans do not fall on the heads of guests… but it’s exciting.”
“Musically speaking, the new Nigerian Afrobeat movement is global,” he added, pointing to stars such as Davido, Wizkid and Mr Eazi.
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Government on Sunday announced that there would be traffic diversion and restricted movement from 12 noon to 12 midnight on Tuesday around the Alausa, African Shrine/Agidingbi axis.