Steve Ayorinde, Lola Shoneyin mourn late French envoy, Pierre Cherruau

Pierre Cherruau

Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Steve Ayorinde, and Director of Book Buzz Foundation, Lola Shoneyin, have mourned the death of former Regional Audio-visual Attaché of the French Embassy in Nigeria, Pierre Cherruau, who died on Saturday in France.

Mr Cherruau, who would have been 49 on Monday, died from injuries sustained while attempting to save his drowning son.

A lover and supporter of the Nigerian art and culture scene, his death sent shock waves around those who knew him during his time in Nigeria.

In a message posted on Facebook, Mr Ayorinde who knew the deceased for close to 20 years described him as “a lover of everything Nigerian and a true art aficionado.”

Recalling the circumstances in which the Parisian died, Ayorinde added, “You succeeded in saving your son from drowning but sadly you couldn’t stay for him and all of us your friends to wish you happy 49th birthday today Monday 20th.

“May the Almighty receive your gentle, friendly soul.”

Ms Shoneyin, who was one of the first Nigerians to know about the death, also recalled her friendship with the journalist and writer.

Her words: “Whilst serving as the audio-visual attaché for the French Embassy in West Africa, Pierre became one of my closest and dearest friends. Even after he returned to Paris, we remained close – he came to the UK with his kids last year to celebrate Mayowa’s 21st birthday with us.

“Yesterday, we got the devastating news that he had passed away. He died after saving his son from drowning at the beach.

“Pierre was incredibly kind and supportive of Culture in Africa. He was an experienced and thoughtful networker. In the last few days, he was helping me to track down Fatoumata Diawara for Ake Festival. The Book Buzz Foundation has lost a true friend and champion. Pierre was so excited about joining us at KabaFest on 5 September.

“Pierre was a brilliant journalist who worked with reputable media houses such Le Monde, Slate and Jeune Afrique, to name a few. He was also a talented and prolific novelist, with twelve novels to his name and many more awaiting publication. In his most recent four- stint in Nigeria, he completed three manuscripts.

“He loved the beaches in Bordeaux. He once told me that it was the place where he felt most at peace. He was a devoted son and a loving father to Marie and Almami. My thoughts are with his wife Aissata, his sister and the rest of the family.

“Pierre would have turned 49 today.

“Happy Birthday, my beloved friend. My family is in mourning. We will never forget your laughter and the way you made us smile. We will always love you.”