Unveiled in 2010 after 8 years of construction, the African Renaissance monument (tallest on the continent) is a towering piece of bronze that is intended to celebrate the achievements of the African people, especially in regards to emancipation from colonial grip and slavery.
The monument is perched on a hill just outside Dakar and is the depiction of a man, woman and child emerging from a volcano. It overlooks the Atlantic ocean and points to the statue of liberty in New York.
I have high reverence for the artists of Senegal and have always admired the works of musicians like Youssou N’Dour, writers of African liberation concepts like Cheikh Anta Diop among others. My trip served as proof that the people of Senegal are truly in touch with their culture as experienced through different forms of art. The statue, for example is the mastermind of Senegalese architect Pierre Goudiaby. It was however implemented by a South Korean company.
The must-visit monument contains cultural exhibitions, multimedia and conference rooms, shops, a nearby theatre, and a floor at the very top that allows visitors a bird’s eye view of the surrounding city and ocean. This made me quite reminiscent of Montmarte in Paris which also presented a magnificent view. What makes it even more interesting is the fact that the view at the top is witnessed from within the head of the man in the statue.
There is a park in front of the monument where children rode their bicycles and skated, devoid of vehicular interference.
While the monument came with lots of controversy over consumption of 30 million US dollars, it deserves honour for its grandeur and symbolism of the rise of Africa.
“This African who emerges from the volcano, facing the West, symbolizes that Africa which freed itself from several centuries of imprisonment in the abyssal depths of ignorance, intolerance and racism, to retrieve its place on this land, which belongs to all races, in light, air and freedom.” -Former Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade who commissioned the monument.
Until next time,