Sometime in 1999/2000, the great maestro Steve Rhodes introduced me to Monsieur Pascal Ott who was then the Director of the French Cultural Centre on Kingsway Road Ikoyi, Lagos.
Uncle Steve, noted for his brevity with words, admonished me to ‘stick with Pascal, he is a very good man.’ I listened and never drifted far.
I was elected President of the Independent Television Producers Association of Nigeria (ITPAN) 2002-2006 and Monsieur Pascal Ott became one of our most dependable enablers. He facilitated all manner of support and made possible many collaborations with french filmmakers and institutions. Twice we even hosted the Lagos International Forum on Video and Cinema in Africa at the famous thatched roof hall of the French Cultural Centre Ikoyi.
And through the years we’ve become family as well, working together to promote the culture/artistic mission of institutions like the Committee for the Relevant Arts (CORA) and the Freedom Park Lagos. Monsieur Pascal has long retired from official duties in the diplomatic community, but he and his beautiful wife, Itohan, have chosen to make Nigeria their home. Looking back over these 20+ years, my dearly departed and dearly missed Uncle Steve Rhodes was right. I am so grateful to have retained the warm friendship of such a wonderful man as Monsieur Pascal.
Today (Saturday, June 26, 2021) a few friends joined his family to celebrate his 70th birthday.
It was the most touching experience hearing tributes from so many people from different walks of life, who like me benefitted from the warmth, kindness and honest friendship of Monsieur Pascal. And when it came to my turn to speak, I imagined Uncle Steve amongst us, and how in that imposing baritone voice he would have simply said ‘Thank you, Pascal, for being such a good man.’