On Life, love and Politics

"Random musings about Life, love and Politics. Just my open diary on the events going on in the world as I see it."

Monument – or eyesore? February 7, 2010

Filed under: Diaspora,Opinion Corner/Votre opinion — kikenileda @ 11:09 AM

It is the first thing you will see when you land at Dakar Airport. It sits atop a hill and is 'larger than the Statue of Liberty,' as Senegalese president Abdoualye Wade loves to crow. It's his idea, he claims – others are less sure. And he firmly believes that millions of tourists will flock to his country once his Monument for the African Renaissance opens to the public, next April. The date will coincide with Senegal's ascension to Independence, 50 years ago.

Monument in Senegal

Criticisms include cost (it has cost upwards of €20 million to build), location (it sits in an area that should have been left alone) and, indeed aesthetics – very few think the Soviet-style statue is appealing to the eye. 

And that’s just for starters. Reputations have been torn to shreds over it, lifelong friendships (for instance between the president and his architect) have turned into bitter feuds and “Wade’s Monument” has even turned the sedate press into something of an arena for polemics. All-out condemnation, more like; those who argue in favour of it do exist, though, especially in the immediate presidential entourage. 

The Monument points somewhere. Nearest point of call if you follow its directions is Canary Islands, a main destinations of those who seek to exile themselves from Senegal in those small dangerous “pirogues” (small wooden boats), because one decade of “liberal” rule under this president has made life unsustainable. So much for renaissance. 

But there are other points of contention. They include female nudity (she should cover up properly say the critics); religion (human representations are banned under Islam, I wrote this piece about the presidential reply); tradition (the woman is behind and below the man, what’s African about that…?) – and indeed: why did the government hire North Koreans to do the job? (They were the cheapest, is the answer to that.)
And so on and so forth. 

Anyway: my invitation: come over here and see it for yourself. Go there, climb the hill, get inside (it will have conference rooms, a vantage point from where you can see all of Dakar and much more besides) and check if it does indeed point to one of Europe’s favourite tourism destination. As of April 4. 

Bram Posthumus, 


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