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Photo: Kobi Williamz

A Smiling Macron Wants To Make France Africa's Best Friend, But at What Cost?

The charismatic French President came through to Fela Kuti's temple, played some drums, gave a speech, and potentially lit a fire.

The characteristic smell of weed was missing from the the New Afrikan Shrine, Tuesday. On regular evenings in the home of Afrobeat, built in honor of Nigerian cultural icon Fela Kuti, young men stroll up and down the street, seeking to convert tourists and visitors into buyers for their products. But today was different.

Emmanuel Macron, the President of the French Republic was on his way.

The young President of France, the poster boy for business friendly centrism, swept into Nigeria on June 3, 2018, where he sealed an agreement between Nigeria and France to carry out projects in Lagos, Kano and Ogun states at the cost of $475 million. First stop was in Abuja, the Federal Capital of the country, where the standard photo-ops and press releases were done and disseminated. But for young creatives in Lagos, State, the hub of the music, fashion, and movie industries, the agenda was different.

The cultural extravaganza at the New Afrika Shrine saw President Macron joined by 200 VIP guests and 250 journalists, who packed the hallowed music venue, home of Femi Kuti and his world-famous band. On the night, the legendary musician, and son of Fela, performed a show-stopping set, bringing Macron up for the finale, in what is the first time in the Shrine's history that a serving President has graced the stage.

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