France President, Emmanuel Macron says it is time Nigerian youths participate actively in politics to be elected into public offices.
Macron, who spoke at the Afrika Shrine on Tuesday night in Ikeja, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria said the message he had for Nigerian youths was to be engaged in politics in order to change the situation of the country positively.
“If I have one message for young people in the shrine tonight, yes, politics is important, be involved, that is my advice,” he said.
The president described Afrika Shrine as an iconic place for the propagation of African music and culture, saying that he was immensely enriched when he first visited the place in 2012.
“I discovered Nigeria and a lot of my friends are here. I discovered Nigeria and I discovered Lagos and I discovered the shrine. This place is an iconic place and it is a place where the best of music are 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 other people in Europe because I was in the Gambia.” he said.
Macron stressed the need for Africa and Europe, especially France to build a new commonality, adding that “this new commonality is not based on what is important for Europeans but what is important for Africa, about their culture, how they build their culture and promote the culture and which places are important for them about their culture. 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.”
The French president hinted of plans to host the African Cultural Season 2020 in France, which he said, would be about promoting African culture in Europe, adding that the event was going to be for Africa and for African artistes.
“The event will be financed by African leaders. It will not be sponsored by France or European businesses, but by African businesses, it is brand new. This season is a unique one and it will be the new face of Africa in Europe organize by Africans, providing what you like and what you have here,” he explained.
Macron also said the reason why African continent was being painted in negative light was because Africans were not telling their stories to the outside world.
“I am not so sure the image of Africa is always negative. Some people say this is a tremendous continent with young people and lots of opportunities and so on and at the same time a lot of people say Africa is a place of terrorism and needs to liberate itself. The two assumptions are true at the same time because Africa is just more than that.
“It is a young continent, what we need is African people speaking about Africa. We need a new narrative, we need you people to change this narrative, what we need is young generation of artistes, entrepreneurs, civil societies, journalists and intellectuals coming from Africa and speaking about Africa in your own narrative everywhere,” he said.
Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, who spoke at the event, emphasized that Lagos was now the 5th largest economy in Africa and played host to rich cultural heritage.
He said Macron’s becoming France president as a youth gave hope to Nigerian youths as they constituted over 60 percent of the population.