Writer and multi-hyphenate, Lola Shoneyin organised an intimate evening of tributes and reminiscences in honour of the recently departed Pierre Cherruau who died in a freak drowning accident in his beloved Bordeaux on August 19, 2018. Pierre was trying to rescue his son from drowning.
Pierre was a journalist, writer and bon vivant. He first arrived Lagos as an audio-visual attache at the French consulate but quickly endeared himself to the Lagos culture and creative elite. Pierre was ever present as panelist or resource person or supporter at many book, movie and cultural events.
The gathering took place at the offices of Ms Shoneyin’s Ouidah Books and Book Buzz Foundation (organisers of the Ake and Kabafest book and art festivals.)
Kicking things off after a viewing of a photo reel from Pierre’s funeral, Lola Shoneyin described Pierre as “a great friend, a good son, an amazing father, a prolific novelist with over 10 published novels, a hardworking and respected journalist and funny guy who made us laugh then annoyed us with his many jokes.” Going further she added that “The Evening of Reminiscences” was an opportunity for us to “remind ourselves of our wonderful friend and celebrate his life, remembering what was beautiful about him and what was annoying about him.”
She announced the setting up of the “Pierre Cherruau Space for the Development of Media and Creativity in Africa.” The space is located within her office complex. Lola also spoke about plans for a “Humour Writing Prize” in honour of Cherruau. The prize will be presented annually at the Ake festival.
The evening see-sawed between laughter and tears as speaker after speaker spoke glowingly about Pierre. Friend and colleague Moise Gomis said “Pierre’s death was a tragedy but it could have been worse.”
Aurelien Sennacherib of the French consulate recalled how Pierre helped him settle in upon his arrival at his duty post here in Lagos. “Thank you Destiny for letting me see Pierre again one month before he died.Florian Plaucheur had an identical story of how Pierre helped him settle down in Lagos as an AFP journalist. He described Pierre as a crazy but focused and formidable personality who had a charming effect on everyone from Lagos to Paris.
Speaking on behalf of Nollywood practitioners, Francis Onwochei described Pierre as a lover and ambassador of Bordeaux, his native city. He said Pierre had been instrumental in facilitating a visit for select Nollywood practitioners. “We will be departing, very soon, for Bordeaux thanks to Pierre but it is a pity that he won’t be there to welcome us. He impacted so many lives.”
Ugoma Adegoke, convener and Director of the Lights Camera Africa film festival could not hold back tears as she spoke about Pierre whom she said was a great supporter of the LCA. “I would not be where I am today in my work if it was not for you. You were a brother and you loved me, the Life House and the film festival. I will never ever forget you.”
Guests at the evening included band leader, Ade Bantu; his brother Abiodun; poet and shrink, Dami Ajayi; photographer Benedicte Kurzue and Bloomberg journalist, Yinka Ibukun amongst others.