Controversy of the African Renaissance Monument

You may think this monument is beautiful, but here’s the real story behind why people don’t like it here in Senegal

Many of my friends and family have asked me the big question “Have you seen this monument yet?” The answer is that it’s hard not to see this thing.  It may lay on the shoreline of Dakar, but I don’t think you understand how huge it is!  It’s 1 and a half times bigger than the statue of liberty so it’s easily visible from any tall building in the city.  But yes I have been to the monument area 3 times.  I went up the stairs twice, but I haven’t taken the elevator to the top of his hat (and I don’t plan on doing it ever for reasons that will be  explained later).  By the base of the monument they host many concerts at night.  It’s really cool because the monument lights up at night.

From an outsiders prospective this thing is great, but from a Senegalese prospective many people have mixed feelings about this statue.  This statue is supposed to represent the muslim people, the Senegalese,  and general public of  Africa but does this statue depicted that story?

Visually speaking the answer is no.  There are two things that are wrong with this statue The first is the direction that it facing.  The family is leaning toward the coast.  On the one hand is ascetically pleasing, but on the other hand there are undertones of wanting to leave Africa.  The baby is pointing to the west insinuating that he wants to leave and to have a future in another place (more specially in the West).

The lack of clothing is the second problem because it’s very un-Islamic and unbecoming from their perspective.  The baby is completely naked, man is bare chested, and the woman is showing a breast and thigh.  The Muslim way is to cover yourself.  The original design was to have them all naked, but the Senegalese people were completely against it.  If this was a true representation of the African people, then it should show how African people actually dress.

While still on the top of design, there is another controversy because a North Korean company designed and built it.  The reasoning behind going with a North Korean company is because they can build big statues for cheap.  But one problem is that they didn’t have the correct image of what the African Renaissance was.  Another problem with the Koreans’ designing the statue is that it is often called the Soviet styled statue, which takes away from the African ownership and its authenticity.

The last two controversies of this monument is the cost of it and where the money goes to when you pay to go to the top of the hat.  Even though having the monument built by the North Koreans was cost effective, it was still really expensive.  Instead of building this 160 ft monument, President Abdoulaye Wade could have put the money to something more important. During this time the economy collapsed and the education system was in a crisis as well as the health system.  And to make things even better President Wade got away with claiming part of the land, so 35% percent of the entry fees go to President Wade (yea corruption is kind of a problem here).

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