President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday met with French President, Emmanuel Macron, at the presidential villa in Abuja.
The meeting is part of efforts to forge closer ties with English-speaking Africa.
Macron, who is 40-year-old and a former investment banker who speaks fluent English, has made a point of boosting ties with France’s former colonies but also improving trade with English speaking countries.
Macron also visit Lagos State where the state government hosted him at the New Afrika Shrine founded by Femi Kuti, son of music legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti – making him the first president to enter the venue.
The New Afrika Shrine located at Ikeja Lagos was built after the original Shrine by the musical maverick; Fela was burnt down in 1977.
In Lagos, the agenda will be less traditionally diplomatic, with a focus more on the megacity of 20 million people’s artistic and cultural scene.
The French President is expected to officially launch the African Cultural Season which takes place in France in 2020, at an event showcasing music, fashion and theatre.
The choice of location — the Shrine concert venue of Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti — has come as a surprise for many Nigerians given its association with the anti-establishment musician.
“It’s a pleasant surprise that Macron chose to celebrate the cultural scene in Lagos,” said Steve Ayorinde, Lagos state tourism commissioner.
“But it didn’t come as a shock, knowing that France is a very cultural country and knowing that Macron is a young president.”
During his visit, he was a guest at the New Afrika Shrine, home of legendary Nigerian musician Fela Anikulapo Kuti – He was accompanied by Lagos state governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, the French president was welcomed by son of Fela and musician in his own right, Femi Kuti as well as his sister Yeni.
He was then treated to a display from top contemporary Nigerian artists Ndidi Emefiele, Abraham Onoriode Oghobase and Victor Ehikhamenor. Celebrity stylist Jane Michael Ekanem and fashion designers Ituen Basi and Mai Atafo also showcased their latest designs.
He was also presented with a drawing of himself by 11-year-old artist Kareem Waris Olamilekan who drew him under two hours. He was then taken on a tour of the shrine by Femi Anikulapo Kuti. A bevy of Nollywood stars including Ramsey Nouah, Joke Silva, Jide Kosoko, Yomi Fash Lanso, Omotola Jalade Ekeinde, Rita Dominic, Dakore Akande, Kemi Lala Akindoju, Chief Zebrudayya and director Kunle Afolayan also made a short sketch to the delight of President Macron and others present.
Yemi Alade, Ara, DJ Jimmy Jatt, Charlotte Dipanda and Femi Kuti also graced the stage. Also in attendance were African music legends Youssou N’dour and Angelique Kidjo.