Senegal boasts a well-refined culture and the African Renaissance Monument which happens to be the tallest statue in the continent.
Standing at 49 meters tall, the statue which was created by creative North Koreans is taller than the Statue of Liberty in the US which is three meters shorter. It hovers over Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, which is only 30 meters tall.
The bronze monument which sits on top of a hill depicts a man, woman, and a child who represent Africans or rather Africa’s rebirth as portrayed by its name.
The strong man is portrayed by his masculine body holding the kid high on his left shoulder while the woman clings on to his right hand in an image that looks like they are either running away or walking in haste.
Alias Mabo from Cameroon told BBC that he could see the statue from the plane when he arrived at the Airport. He appreciated the fact that even though the face of the man is that of a Cameroonian, the physique is that of a built African man that was sought after by people dealing in the slave trade during the colonial era.
While many people feel the statue will boost the country’s tourism, with people from Africa and across the globe traveling to Senegal to get a glimpse of the statue that represent Africanism, some feel it was a waste of resources.
An article by Atlas Obscura said: “The monument, which sits atop a hill surrounded by trash heaps and unfinished homes, depicts a man, woman, and child who are ostensibly meant to be African yet look glaringly like chiseled Soviet caricatures.”
Expensive venture for a nation that was struggling with an economic crisis
When it was dedicated six years ago, opponents of the $27 million sculpture argued that the money could have been spent elsewhere as the country experienced an economic crisis at the time.
Additionally, the figurine was highly criticized as it involved very few Africans in its creation. The art piece was designed by a Romanian architect and subsequently built by a North Korean construction firm.
But it is not just the design and lack of involving the African people in the project that was criticized. The sexist portrayal of the image itself came under fire due to the ripped male figure that appears to be rescuing a maiden whose one breast has been revealed.
According to Atlas Obscura, the statue was the idea of then-President Abdoulaye Wade whose presidential service was flawed by widespread allegations of corruption and nepotism. The accusations were later strengthened by the construction of the African Renaissance Monument.
While the fiercely contested giant landmark is expected to bring in revenue to the country through tourism, much of it, about 37 percent will go to Mr. Wade in the name of intellectual property rights.
If there were any doubts that the project was not only supposed to benefit Senegal but also widen Mr. Wade’s pockets, then this is the prove.
There is optimism that greater opportunities for rebirth in Africa still lies ahead.
Images credits: Jeff Attaway (Header image) and Rebecca Blackwell/AP