It’s a bird… It’s a plane… No, it’s the 160-foot African Renaissance Monument located in Dakar, Senegal.
To the naked eye, the striking bronze monument stands perched high on a hill, gazing into the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. The monument depicts a muscular man in a heroic position accompanied with his wife in one arm and child in the other, erupting from the vicissitude of life from a volcano.
After the ordeal of centuries of ignorant perceptions, prejudice and racism fueled by the western imperialism, the monument is meant to symbolize the potential, rebirth, and liberation of the African continent and its descendants around the world.
Just a couple of feet taller than the Statue of Liberty in New York, the African Renaissance Monument costs an estimated 27 million dollars with hopes to set Dakar as a prominent tourist attraction.
The mastermind of the monument is Senegal’s highly publicized President Abdoulaye Wade, who claims the monument as his “intellectual property.” The African Renaissance Monument is sure to live up to its assertions as a noticeable tourist stop, but many oppose the colossal monument, and is frustrated with Senegal’s health, economic, and educational well-being.
The beautiful bronze giant is believed by many to represent nepotism, corruption, and mismanagement. “The economy has collapsed. … The education system is in a crisis. The health system is in crisis. And yet Abdoulaye Wade is squandering public money,” said Abdoulaye Bathily, an opposition leader who says the statue is the product of a “power-drunk” president.
At one point in time, thousands of Senegalese gathered on the street for a demonstration whose protestors marched against corruption, poor governance, and the poor delivery of services – a practice that does not occur often in the country. With so much opposition and animosity against him, Wade appears to be running a mile behind from winning a third, and last term as President in 2012.
Although many clash with Wade’s philosophical approach and his “intellectual property”, many in return praise him and the monument, mentioning that the monument will be “one of the seven or eight wonders of the world”.
Isaac Ferris, the former director of the King Center in Atlanta and nephew of Martin Luther King Jr., says that “the monument symbolizes the emerging of Africa from years of darkness and domination, and symbols serve to remind people of their history, and how far they have come.”
Wade stands firm with his monument and its symbol of oppressing the horrors of slavery and the colonialism that Africa is now liberated from. “Five centuries of ordeals, slavery, Africa is still there, folding sometimes, but never breaking,” Wade said.
The African Renaissance Monument is a part of the African Renaissance movement, a concept that the African people objects to overcome the current difficulties confronting the continent. The movement aims to end the violence, elitism, corruption, and poverty that is believed to plague the African continent with hopes of replacing them with more approval in direction by the people.