By Ayo Onikoyi
Afrobeat singer, Femi Kuti, son of the legendary Afrobeat creator, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, who welcomed President Emmanuel Macron of France to their iconic Afrika Shrine on Tuesday amid pomp and pageantry has revealed his connection to the French while admitting it was a total shock that the French President would choose his place to visit in Nigeria as part of activities to mark the launch of the 2020 Season of African Cultures in France.
“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 for the French and their love for me is public knowledge,” he said.
While reacting to questions on his reaction to the news of the President coming to the Afrikan Shrine as part of his itinerary in Nigeria, the Afro-beat maestro admitted it was a shock and said he never saw it coming.
“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 heritage across the vast continent of Africa now, where we give free music, talking about political issues for free. If we had funds, you could imagine what would have come out of the Shrine? So for President Macron to decide to come 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.
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.