BY CHUKS NWANNE
Alliance Française, Lagos, rolled out drums recently to celebrate its 50th anniversary in Nigeria. The event, which was declared open by the French Ambassador to Nigeria, Jean Michel Dumond, began with a special concert, with Seun Anikulapo-Kuti, Yinka Davies and the Crown Troupe of Africa on parade.
With a special cocktail party staged towards the end of the Expo Hall, Oceanview Restaurant, Lagos, the event was not a night of long speeches, though some French dignitaries and the president of Alliance Française Nigeria, Chief Omolade Okoya Thomas, had the opportunity of recounting their experience over the last 50 years of the centre.
Immediately after the speech/cocktail session, guests were moved to the main stage, which was filled with all sorts of musical instruments. It was a live show, not ‘DJ track one.’
Crown Troupe of Africa got the first slot to entertain the crowd comprising of both expatriates and locals, who came out in their numbers to join in the celebration.
Led by Segun Adefila, the troupe, through a dance-drama piece, captured the long journey of the culture mission in Nigeria.
Their colourful costumes, well-choreographed and energetic dance steps, earned them several rounds of applause from the excited crowd.
Jazz artiste, Yinka Davies, mounted the stage with so much drama; first, she started with the National Anthem, before getting the audience soaked in her beat, provided by her 5 & 6 Band.
After collaboration with two French artistes (a guitarist and a saxophonist), Yinka gave the crowd the surprise of their lives; she invited Afrobeat master, Orlando Julius, on stage. Within few seconds, Orlando appeared with his saxophone hung round his neck. At that point, Yinka turned to a backup singer and the rest was history.
Highlife legend Fatai Rolling Dollar, who was lured into an impromptu performance, had a good show.
Seun Anikulapo-Kuti resurrected the spirit of his late father at the event with his electrifying performance. His display that night sparked up debate as to whether he was a fitting replacement for the late Abami Eda; he actually performed some of his father’s songs.
However, his song, Many Things, which won him an award at the recently held Nigeria Music Video Awards, caught the attention of the audience; lyrically, he was on point in that track. Those, who couldn’t hold themselves, had no option that jumping into the dance floor, swinging their waists to the beat of the boy of yesterday, whose music career got lifeline from the culture mission’s stage.