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Statue casts shadow over Senegal Renaissance

August 20, 2009

Far from being a shining beacon of hope for the world’s poorest continent, Dakar’s monument to the African Renaissance has sparked a storm of criticism over Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade and his handling of the project.

Declaring himself to be the “intellectual owner” of the bronze family of man, woman and infant – at 50 metres tall just higher than New York’s Statue of Liberty – Wade has decided that he should take a 35 percent cut in the revenues of a site which is expected to be one of Dakar’s top tourist draws when it is completed in December. 










Wade - who has long stalked the world stage reminding the rich to make good on pledges of aid to the poor -insists his share would go to a variety of good causes he sponsors rather his own pocket. But for many Senegalese, the affair has left a bad taste.
“I have never seen a president being in a business deal with the same state of which he is the highest representative,” said Ousmane Sow, a high school teacher in the capital. 

Wade supporters disagree, arguing that he had already drawn sketches for the monument in a book, “A Destiny For Africa”, which he wrote in his early political career.

But others complain it is the latest in a line of glamour projects – including plans for West Africa’s biggest theatre or a four-lane corniche serving Dakar’s wealthy suburbs – that Wade has favoured over urgently needed basic infrastructure.

The complaint strikes a chord with many right now as the stiflingly hot rainy season prompts thousands of Dakar’s residents to turn on their air-conditioning full pelt - causing the city’s over-stretched electricity grid to crash for hours at a time.

But love it or hate it - and everybody seems to have a strong view on the statue - few would argue that the project is wrong in principle. New York has the Statue of Liberty, Paris its Eiffel Tower – why shouldn’t Africa have an equally impressive monument, perched on its western-most tip overlooking the Atlantic?

In some ways, the timing is not great. When it was originally conceived, Africa had been enjoying a years-long growth spurt and the renaissance that Wade, Liberia’s Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and South Africa’s former president Thabo Mbeki seemed just round the corner.

With a global economic slow down that prompted many investors to halt projects on the continent, and which has cut the flow of remittances back home from the diaspora working in the rich world, the re-birth will be more difficult than many had imagined.

(Photo: The nearly finished monument to the African Renaissance rises above the Dakar skyline in Senegal’s capital. Reuters/Finbarr O’Reilly)



It might have been a good idea but The President’s Political Antennae are scrambled if He really thinks taking a 35% cut is tenable.

It is like taking a Shredder to your Political Capital.

Aly-Khan Satchu
Twitter alykhansatchu


Where government official and business meet, the two shall never a happy couple make. Government officials, due to their positions should not be allowed to “moonlight” in the corporate sphere. The revenues that are going to be generated from this statue shall never see the light of day.Self enrichment is a human trait, but were the president and the president alone stands to gain at the expense of others is not a tolerable situation. The praticalities of such a situtation is that theres nobody that is going to be brave enought to want to monitor the flow of revenue to the promised public bodys, and so everybody stands around and watches as the left hand (as president) passes the cash to the right hand (the business man). He shakes his own hand and pats his own back.

The idea of an African statue, one that can rival the Eifffel, or Lady Liberty is most welcome. Africa must show that it too can shine. Africa in the past has stood back and watched as others progress. An African statue is most welcome, its time.

Posted by Born son of an African | Report as abusive

He needs to be prosecuted…Thats is what needs to happen!

Posted by pedro | Report as abusive

Its just the manifestation of the megalomania of most African heads of state and those around at least he did not demand 90%. When will we be rid us of these buffoons. Wish it is before judgement day

Posted by Momodou | Report as abusive

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