The monument is made of 3-centimetre thick metal sheets and depicts a family group emerging from a mountaintop: a full-length statue of a young woman, a man, and held aloft on the man’s raised left arm, a child resolutely pointing west towards the sea. Construction of the bronze statue group was carried out by the North Korean firm Mansudae Overseas Project Group of Companies.
The project was launched by then Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade who considered it part of Senegal’s prestige projects, aimed at providing monuments to herald a new era of African Renaissance.
On 3 April 2010, the African Renaissance Monument was unveiled in Dakar in front of 19 African heads of state, including President of Malawi and the African Union Bingu wa Mutharika, Jean Ping of the African Union Commission and the Presidents of Benin, Cape Verde, Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania and Zimbabwe, as well as representatives from North Korea, and Jesse Jackson and musician Akon, both from the United States. Everyone was given a tour.
President Wade said “It brings to life our common destiny. Africa has arrived in the 21st century standing tall and more ready than ever to take its destiny into its hands”. President Bingu said “This monument does not belong to Senegal. It belongs to the African people wherever we are”.Reverend Jackson said “This renaissance statue is a powerful idea from a powerful mind. This is dedicated to the journey of our ancestors, enslaved but not slaves”
Expense : The colossal statue has been criticized for its cost at US$ 27 million (£16.6m). The payment was made in kind, with 30 to 40 hectares of land that will be sponsored by a Senegalese businessman.
Style : opposition leaders have also questioned the style of the project, labelling it “Stalinist”, while others say that the body shapes are not African. Local imams argue that a statue depicting a human figure is idolatrous, and object to the perceived immodesty of the semi-nude male and female figures.
In December 2009, president Abdoulaye Wade apologised to Senegal’s Christian minority for comparing the statue to Jesus Christ.
Revenue: The project has also attracted controversy due to Wade’s claim to the intellectual property rights of the statue, and insisting that he is entitled to 35 percent of the profits raised. Opposition figures have sharply criticised Wade’s plan to claim intellectual property rights, insisting that the president cannot claim copyright over ideas conceived as function of his public office.
Local artists: Sow, a world-renowned Senegalese sculptor, also objected to the use of North Korean builders, saying it was anything but a symbol of African renaissance and nothing to do with art
Thousands of people protested against “all the failures of [President] Wade’s regime, the least of which is this horrible statue” on the city’s streets beforehand, with riot police deployed to maintain control. Deputy leader of the opposition Ndeye Fatou Toure described the monument as an “economic monster and a financial scandal in the context of the current [economic] crisis”.
Source: Gigantic Statues
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