Have You Seen the Tallest Statue in Africa?

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Considered the tallest building, the African Renaissance Monument has made headlines.

There are many stories, intriguing stories regarding the African Renaissance Monument and I have always wanted to experience it myself. Being in Senegal and exploring the Dakar region was something I was excited about.

The big, bronze and bullish statue were completed in 2010. A completed statue of a man carrying a child whilst holding onto the woman stands a symbol of defiance and future prosperity. The statue was well designed with a proper slogan of ‘rebuilding a better country.’

On entrance, there are two sections you meet. One section is about the Historical leaders and renowned leaders and the second one talks about Gandhi’s, life, upbringing, and a message. Even though at first you wonder why they put Gandhi in the monument as he is not from Africa, but then one of the key elements of the monument is a universalist message and Gandhi is well-known for conveying that. I would personally recommend a tour guide who will clearly make you understand the whole monument statue.

Although it has been criticized by many. The building still has a lot of positivity from the many. Many have criticized it and said that it had rather used a Romanian construction firm then an African construction firm.

By just 49 meters, the African renaissance monument is taller than the Statue of Liberty and Christ the Redeemer. Located on the 100-meter-high hill of Dakar. The statues represent “its destiny into its own hands.”

By then, the project was commissioned by the former Senegalese President Abdoulaye and its strongest depiction was “greatness, stability, and durability.” He is said to claim about 35% of the tourist revenue.

Having opened its gates on the 14th April 2010, marking the 50 years after Senegal achieved its independence from France. The statue brought harmony and conveyed a deeper message to the people of Senegal also the internationals.

The controversy between some of the people who had a different feel and opinion towards it said that the statue was a waste of funds. Critics further went into how people labelled the major problems including foremost, poverty and lack of jobs. The estimated $27 million could have done something better and increased the many factors that were tarnishing the country image instead of spending it on some statue that will bring nothing. During the World Financial Crisis, the former President had summed up all the frustrations with people fearing for future plans.

“The economy has collapsed. The education system is in crisis. The health system is in crisis, and yet Abdoulaye Wade is squandering public money” said one of the Senegal residents.

A deal with North Korea was made and the monument was eventually going to raise capital to pay off funds through the increased tourism. An agreement made by the former President of Senegal and North Korea was that, Senegal would give 30-40 acres of prime real estate to North Korea. The monument was built by one of the Mansudae Overseas projects, a North Korean state-owned construction company. Whilst some had a different emotion towards the whole funding. Others questioned why the by-then President had bought a construction owned company all the way from North Korea instead of using his own people.

Wade, went further in reaching out to his people by stating that the country was not alone in the monument project, but then the Mansudae had built monuments for cash-strapped countries all across Africa. He also said that the construction company built mega-monuments on a shoestring budget.

The statue shows a shirtless man holding a child on his shoulder whilst looking in a certain direction almost towards the sky and neatly grabbing hold of the almost naked woman with one breast out with his other hand. Many disregarded the statue saying that it brought shame and sent out a far more disgraceful message then what it was initially meant to send out. The amount of nudity on display has caused dis-satisfactory to the religious people. From the muscular male torso and the bare legs and the live portrayed breast of the woman on the statue. The controversial issue of idolatry is something the Dakar congregants feel highly about. The explicit nudity on the statues is misleading the Islamic teaching and represent a different message. They believe that the monument was made for people to worship the statue.

Even though the statue was named the Monument of African Renaissance, the monument is still seen as Wade’s indulgence as he gets to make a profit in the account of intellectual property rights.

Even though there may have been negative responses from certain people. The moment will still be there for decades from now, the monument also provides a provident marvellous view. It is a long way up, with 204 steps before reaching the entrance.

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About Author

Lorraine is a South African based junior journalist with Nomad Africa magazine published by 2414 Publishing (Pty) Limited. She is very passionate about travelling and a lover of the African culture. Lorraine had a Diploma in Journalism from Rosebank College in Johannesburg, South Africa and worked as an intern with The Star Newspaper. Fluent in English and other South African languages she is very eager to learn about new cultures and traditions. Though she is still very new in the industry, Lorraine is vibrant and energetic for new travelling experiences.

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