French leader Emmanuel Macron will on Tuesday visit a nightclub founded by Nigerian music legend, Fela Kuti, becoming the first “real president” to enter a venue synonymous with marijuana smoke, sexy backup dancers and protest music. The New Afrika Shrine located in the teeming Lagos district of Ikeja replaced Fela Kuti’s original club that burnt down in 1977, but for millions of fans it still represents the original Shrine built by the musical maverick.
“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”.
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.
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 his native Yoruba and pidgin and were searing indictments of corruption and incompetence.
Meanwhile, the Lagos State government on Sunday said there would be traffic diversion and restricted movement from 12 noon to 12 midnight on Tuesday, July 3, around Alausa, African Shrine and Agidingbi axis in Ikeja. The state government will receive the President of France, Emmanuel Macron. The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Taiwo Salaam, appealed for the understanding of residents and urged motorists to make use of alternative routes provided.
“While we regret the inconvenience that this might cause the public, especially those who live and work in the area, we appeal that you kindly bear with us during this period and make use of the alternative routes provided,’’ Salaam said in a statement. He would also be attending the opening of the French Cultural Centre and the African Business Forum.