The much talked about two-day visit of young and famous president of France, Emmanuel Jean-Michel Fréderic Macron has finally come and is over. Although this meeting was majorly for political purposes, it was a typical blend of work and pleasure. This is because President Emmanuel Macron successfully made out time from his obviously busy schedule to visit the new Afrika Shrine. As the president of one of the most powerful nations in the world, Macron’s visit to the Afrika Shrine was definitely planned. Also in Macron’s agenda for the visit to Nigeria were a meeting with the president Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari on pressing issues concerning terrorism, insecurity, and the commissioning of Alliance Francaise office in Ikoyi, Lagos. Just like the visit of any other important person in the world, the visit of Macron to Nigeria undoubtedly comes with some benefits. Although in the case of Macron’s visit to Nigeria, there are many benefits, both for the Nigerian political sector, the tourism sector and the entertainment sector, let’s take a look at the political significance of Macron’s visit to Nigeria.
Political Gains of Macron’s Visit
Although the visit of Macron to Nigeria had many agendas, one of the most important for the Nigerian people is his meeting with President Buhari. In the meeting between Macron and Buhari, some vital issues such as terrorism and insecurity were discussed. Terrorism is a phenomenon that is not peculiar to Nigeria alone, it is a phenomenon that everyone in the world is affected by, and France is not in any way an exception. History has it that in January, 2015, 17 people were killed in terrorist attacks that took place in France. Although France has not had issues with deaths as a result of terrorism in recent times, it has suffered severely from the activities of terrorists, and therefore knows how it feels.
Well, unlike France, Nigeria is currently having issues with terrorism, bandits and killer herdsmen. This, therefore, makes the visit of the French president to Nigeria and his meeting with the Nigerian president very timely. This is because this meeting will be beneficial in helping the Nigerian government tackle the issues of insecurity that it is suffering from. As a matter of fact, just before the visit of Macron, issues bordering on terrorism and insecurity were discussed in the African Union summit that was held on the 30th of June n Mauritania. Now, apart from the experience that the French have in dealing with terrorism, this meeting could lead to Nigeria getting military assistance from France.
Also of very important significance was the commissioning of Alliance Francaise in the city of Lagos. Alliance Francaise is an association that is committed to the promotion of the French culture and language. Already, this association is represented in 10 states in Nigeria, and its objectives are majorly to teach French in all parts of the world with study groups for various audiences, to educate people from other countries on the French culture as well as the culture of the many countries that speak French officially, and the promotion of various culture, thereby, encouraging cultural diversity.
Nigeria is definitely an Anglophone country, this notwithstanding, the French language is a language that is taught in Nigerian schools from primary to tertiary level. As a matter of fact, there exists in Nigeria a place that is known as the French Language Village. This place is located in Badagry and was established by a former minister of education, Professor Babatunde Fafunwa in 1991. The French Language Village was established solely for the aim of promoting the French language in Nigeria.
The Benefits of President Macron’s Visit to the Entertainment Sector
In as much as the most significant reason for the visit of Macron to Nigeria is his meeting with President Buhari, to a lot of Nigerians, especially those in the entertainment sector, the most significant reason for the visit of Macron to Nigeria is his visit to the Afrika Shrine.
It might be a huge surprise to Nigerians and to the rest of the world that President Macron decided to pay the Afrika Shrine a visit. However, going by Macron’s history, his visit to the Afrika Shrine shouldn’t be much of a surprise. In 2004, President Emmanuel Macron trained in Nigeria as a Senior Civil Servant. This implies that he definitely has had contact with Fela’s music even if most people are not aware. Well, irrespective of the fact that Macron once lived in Nigeria as an anonymous person, his visit to the Afrika Shrine as the president of France is definitely historic. This visit is of a very huge significance to the legacy of Fela, the Fela family, the shrine, and tourism in Lagos state. Before the visit of Macron to the Shrine, each time a politically important figure visited Nigeria, a gala night was usually organized to honour them. This gala night used to take place in the Aso Villa Banquet Hall and usually had various cultural troupes from different parts of the country entertain the special guest and his team. Well, this time, there was a break from the norm, Macron opted for the more public Afrika Shrine ahead of the glamorous gala in the Aso Villa.
To Nigerians in general and residents of Lagos, the Afrika Shrine might be a very popular place, it however, is absolutely unknown by people from other parts of the world. The truth is, the visit of President Macron to the Africa Shrine has definitely put the Shrine, Lagos and Nigeria in front of the world for a good reason. As a matter of fact, this is perhaps the first time in a long while that the world will get to see something that can be regarded as amazing in Nigeria through international media. This visit by president Macron will not only improve tourism in Lagos state and Nigeria, it also stands as proof to the rest of the world that all that comes out of Nigeria is not insecurity and criminal activities.
It is believed by lots of Nigerians that the effect of the visit of President Macron to Nigeria will remain incomplete if a posthumous award is not given to Nigerian music legend, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. While alive, Fela was believed to have been more popular than the then president of Nigeria in different parts of the world, France being one of them. Fela was to Afrobeat and Nigerian music what Bob Marley was to Jamaica and reggae music.
Fela was not just a music superstar, he was many things to different people. To the Nigerian government, he was a thorn in the flesh, to the average Nigerian citizen, he was considered a hero.
Just like prophets are able to see into the future, it appeared Fela spoke about the future through his music.
The visit by Macron has come and is over, however, one thing remains challenging, the ability of Nigeria to take advantage of the effect of this visit. It is already being proposed by certain individuals that Fela’s shrine should be converted to UNESCO heritage site. While a lot of people have given various reasons for this, the fact that the Africa Shrine is a representation of afro beat music is one reason that a lot of people believe that it should become a UNESCO heritage site.
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Macron’s visit to Nigeria will go a long way in ensuring that Nigeria becomes a place that is put into serious consideration by international tourists. The truth, however, is until the many issues of insecurity in Nigeria are solved, tourists will not have a reason to visit Nigeria. Foreigners might love the sights and sounds of Nigeria and might want to visit. However, no one will want to risk their life for the purpose of tourism. If people are unwilling to visit Nigeria because of insecurity, the tourism industry will be unable to thrive as it should and this will greatly affect the economy of the country. Already, tourism in plateau state is being affected by the continuos insecurity that this state is plagued by. Plateau state is a state that is known for hospitality and tourism. However, the hospitality and tourism business in plateau will not yield any further gain both for the residents and state government in issues of insecurity continue unchecked.
Why Macron Visited the Afrika Shrine
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, President Emmanuel Macron is the first and only president to have visited the Afrika Shrine. In as much as his visit to the Afrika Shrine is amazing, even more interesting is the fact that no African president has visited the Afrika Shrine. When asked why he decided to visit the Shrine, Macron made it known to journalists that he got to know about the Shrine while he was a junior diplomat in Nigeria and has some memories of the shrine which he wanted to relive.
Talking about Femi and Seun, two of Fela’s sons that have carried on with Fela’s legacy and are currently in charge of running the Afrika Shrine, Macron said “Femi and Seun are Obviously very famous in France and Europe”, he went on to say, “this place is an iconic place and it is a place where the best of music is given. I have to say my main memories about this place are friends, proud people, proud of their culture, proud of their art and music. I have a very different view of Africa than a lot of people from Europe.” Being here, I do recognize their culture and respect their views. This place is important for Africa and their culture and that is why I am here,” he said.