Association FRANCE – NIGERIA
45 rue de la Chaussée d’Antin
On 14 December 2006, UBIFRANCE organised a seminar on the theme of “NIGERIA – the awakening of the African giant”, at which several experts offered their knowledge of that country, led by Alain Frossard, who at the time was the Head of Economic Missions in Nigeria. On her part, Mrs Egnell, on the basis of more than thirty years of experience with Nigeria, sketched out a psychological portrait of the typical Nigerian business executive. Among the remarks made by about ten persons, those coming from Maître BOEDELS, an Attorney of the Paris Bar, were particularly positive and encouraging. A few weeks later, Mrs Egnell wanted to meet him and they enthusiastically exchanged information about their respective experience in Nigeria. Mrs Egnell had arrived there in February 1973, with ELF, while Maître Boedels had worked there as Cultural Attaché at the French Embassy as of 1968, for four years developing links with generations of Nigerian students, friendships, and a network that have remained in contact with him to date. We would like to have more people share their admiration for that great country and for its inhabitants. It is appreciated from the economic viewpoint, as Alain Frossard explained to us, and offers a rich potential. UBIFRANCE and the FNCC are making efforts to make this known. But there are few bodies with the assignment of getting French people and Nigerians to know each other and to engage in cultural and friendly exchanges. The Nigerians staying in France are not often welcomed into French families, while Frenchmen and Frenchwomen living in Nigeria now have a tendency to remain among themselves. At least that was not the case in the 1970s.
We thought it might be useful to establish an Association for promoting cultural and scientific activities between France and Nigeria. It would group people who, because of their interlocking experience in those countries, want to work to bring France and Nigeria closer together, mainly in connection with culture and human relationships. While France is already well-known in Nigeria, particularly thanks to the “Service d’Action Culturelle” and to the large network of the “Alliance Française”, French public opinion is not well informed about Nigeria and its 140 million people. That is why, in an initial phase, the Association’s activities will focus strongly on the French public to make it better informed about that great country and the wealth of its cultural heritage.
But even though all French people must be concerned by the Association’s action, that action has to be able to rely more particularly on the following publics:
- French professionals working in connection with Nigeria. Establishment of a network with other professionals in the interest of informal exchanges concerning good practices and local inclusions is useful to them.
- The “Old Hands” with experience in Nigeria These people want to give others the benefit of their experience and to be kept informed about developments in the country. The conferences, exhibitions and lectures to be arranged by the Association will also enable them on such occasions to meet with other “Old Hands”.
- The Nigerians in France, who constitute two target categories:
** Nigerians making short business trips to France. These visitors deserve a better welcome, and in particular their spouses and children are often very isolated.
** The Nigerian students in France. These students have an interest in meetings with French professionals working in Nigeria. With them, the friendly meetings, expeditions, visits, stays in the mountains or in the countryside, combining French and English conversation, should produce better mutual knowledge of the two countries.
The Association will organise all kinds of activities able to contribute to developing such human, cultural and professional links by using all communication means:
- films and scientific popularisation lectures about Nigeria in its African context (history, economics, politics, geology, …), thus making meetings between professionals and scientists possible;
- support for promoting Nigerian performers (by promoting, in ways yet to be defined, fashion parades, concerts, exhibitions, plays…), multiplying the meetings between “old hands” and “newcomers”, French and Nigerian;
- a bulletin, other works, and direct aid for Nigerian literature by developing translation efforts for works by authors poorly known in France;
- networks of experts, partly chosen from among the “old hands”;
- conversation courses, …