Sunday, April 4, 2010

‘African Renaissance’ Unveiled

On Saturday, President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal unveiled a colossal statue as part of his country’s celebration of its 50th anniversary of independence from colonial rule. You might remember the story from last November of “African Renaissance” – a statue of an African man embracing an African woman while holding a baby aloft, perched dramatically on a hillside above Dakar. “Colossal” might even be an understatement; African Renaissance is taller than the Statue of Liberty and larger in volume than the Eiffel Tower (for an idea of scale, those banners in the foreground of the photo are full-sized flags and flagpoles).

It has also attracted an enormous amount of controversy and critique, including complaints that its $27 million price tag would have been better spent on anti-poverty programs in impoverished Senegal, that the scantily-clad figures offended the country’s Muslim sensibilities, and that “African Renaissance” was in actuality built by a team of North Korean artisans – though if you’re building a ridiculously large statue who better to hire than craftsman from the world’s last Stalinist state? In the hours before the unveiling ceremony, thousands of people demonstrated in the streets of Dakar against the huge amount of money spent in building African Renaissance, which they called an “economic monster.”

On the other hand, the dedication ceremony attracted the heads of state from 19 other African nations, as well as African-American dignitaries that included the Rev. Jesse Jackson; a spokesman for President Wade noted that it was rare for the continent to have so many leaders gather together for a positive event. President Wade said African Renaissance illustrates Africa’s rise from “intolerance and racism”. It could also prove lucrative for President Wade personally – he has cut himself in for 35% of the revenues generated by visits to the statue for his role as African Renaissance’s “designer”.
Sphere: Related Content

No comments: