By Victor Akande
The memories of late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, as a musician, culture promoter and social crusader somewhat became highpoint of the visit to Nigeria by President Emmanuel Macron of France, leading to a new narrative about the place of African tourism, arts and entertainment in the global space.
From his body language, unreserved passion for the Afrika Shrine where he was hosted into the night on Tuesday, and his interactions with entrepreneurs from different sectors of the Nigerian economy, Macron exuded the qualities of a new breed of politician from Europe whose desires for Africa is for the continent to free itself from neo-colonialism from France and Europe. His fresh democratic ideology appears to be one that sees how big the world can become with Africa at its full potential.
For the creative industry, the 40-year-old leader is spearheading an African Cultural Season to take place in France, in year 2020.
According to him, “This Season is a unique one and it will be the new face of Africa in Europe… It is about a team of young creatives coming from different parts of Africa. You’ll have contemporary artistes, painters, people involved in Fashion, movies, visual arts, architecture… all the different arts existing and present in Africa, especially Nigeria. It will be about a young generation of artistes coming from Africa.”
Certain that Africa is capable of upholding its business independence, Macron believes that providing the window for African ventures to thrive might just be what the continent needs in the meantime.
“European leaders are not here to lecture African leaders. African leaders are here to take care of their people. They are not there to lead the young generation to believe that their future is outside Africa. They have to build their future here in Africa,” he said.
According to Macron, the Africa Cultural Season 2020 will be organised by Africa and for Africa “in order to show France and Europe the real culture of Africa. It is going to be financed by African leaders and businesses. It’s not going to be sponsored by European or French businesses, but by African businesses, it is brand new.”
Macron decries a situation whereby the international media appears to dictate the narratives about Africa.
“Some people say this is a tremendous continent; this is a unique place. And at the same time, some people say Africa is a place of terrorism. These two messages are true at the same time. But I believe it is possible to change all these negative messages because what we need is for African people to speak about Africa. Because you always replicate, mirror Europeans impression about Africa. When I say we need new narratives, what I mean is that we need you people to make these narratives. I see a new generation of artistes, of entrepreneurs, of people coming from civil societies, of journalists, of intellectuals coming from Africa and explaining, speaking about Africa in Europe and everywhere.”
For spending 95 percent of his time in Lagos – a historic visit to the Afrika Shrine for a ‘Celebration of African Culture’, the official unveiling of Alliance Francaise in Ikoyi, and his engagement with over 2,000 Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) alumni – Macron has strengthened the Shrine as a tourism attraction, promoted Lagos as a tourist destination and pepped the Nigerian entrepreneurs to make a difference in the world.