BY ROTIMI AGBANA
Ahead of French President, Emmanuel Macron’s visit to the New Afrikan Shrine today, as part of activities to mark the launch of the 2020 Season of African Cultures in France, afro-beat maverick, Femi Kuti, has declared that Macron’s visit to the New Afrikan Shrine confirms the popular fun spot as the best fun place to be.
In an interview Femi, who confessed that the news of President Macron’s decision to visit the New Afrikan Shrine came to him as a shock because it caught him unawares.
“It caught us completely unawares but we’re very happy, we’re very delighted. It’s a big political, cultural statement and I think it practically closes the case that the New Afrikan Shrine is the place to be. We’re very authentic, original; we’ve kept the integrity of the African heritage, my father’s legacy. I think it’s probably the biggest cultural center on the African continent now where we give free music, talking about political issues for free and to the best of our abilities. If we did have the funds, can you imagine what would come out of the shrine? So for Macron to decide on coming to the shrine, I’m sure he must have heard a lot about my father, his dreams or the shrine. I’ll believe he’s enthusiastic, he feels the vibration that comes out of the shrine. I hope it’s not a one-off thing where he comes and goes. I don’t even believe that. I hope we all feel this political statement and hope things would probably begin to change positively for the better”, he said.
He added that hopefully, President Macron’s visit would kick-start positive infrastructural developments for Nigeria.
“What I want to see here in Nigeria is the kind of infrastructures I see in Europe, in America. Can’t we have a railway line from Lagos to Johannesburg? We need the kind of trains that fly 370kph. Imagine we have such in Africa, this place would be so beautiful, it would be a big party every day. Macro has probably heard some of my political statements and hopefully this is a chance to make this statement more vibrant and echo more around the corners of the world. I know there are many Africans that think the way I think, so we should now begin to divert our energy in this direction because this is our time”, he said.
Tracing his historical relationship with France, Femi noted he has a long history with the French.
“Even before President Macron, President Jacques Chiraq loved my father. The French have been so supportive of my father, of me and the shrine. They used to come to the shrine in those days. At the beginning of my career, they made it a priority; everything was happening for me in France. France was the first country to accept my talent. I’m still in France, I’m quite popular there, and I’m like their own. My love with the French and their love with me is public knowledge.
Speaking further, he commended Lagos State Government’s involvement in the epoch-making event.
“It’s a state visit; the shrine cannot handle an event of this magnitude alone. The Lagos State Government has been very supportive. The government understands the gravity of such a visit. If this visit truly materializes into all I’ve spoken about, can you imagine the prospects it spells for this country? We’ll start to establish foundations for meaningful development, infrastructures without corruption, with integrity for the future of this continent. I think this is probably the first step in that direction. Someone like me would definitely capitalize on it by working towards this goal and I hope people who have the same idea like me would all work together with me in this respect.