African Renaissance

Senegal's new monument sparks debate...

(Senegal's "African Renaissance" monument, 2010)

Out of the country's 12 million citizens, about 95% of them are Muslim, and they are not pleased with the erection of a large statue that features a Black man with a woman and baby in tow.

The enormous monument (dedicated to the legacy and progression of the Senegalese people), has been cited as being wasteful and an obscured vision of the human form. News site globalpost.com reports, "politicians charge that Senegal's economy is declining and health and education are in crisis, yet massive public funds are being squandered on the statue."

(monument, clashing against the country's needs)

Video (via AlJazeera):

Here's a look at the story Reuters reported...
3 April 2010, DAKAR

Fatwa issued on Senegal’s “monument of shame.” A leading imam on Friday issued a fatwa condemning Senegal’s monument to the “African Renaissance” in the latest blow to President Abdoulaye Wade’s project, a day before its inauguration.

Slightly bigger than New York’s Statue of Liberty, the giant group of man, woman and infant is perched on a hill overlooking the Senegalese capital Dakar and will be formally unveiled before foreign dignitaries and celebrities on Saturday.
The $28-million statue has been criticised as a waste of money in a country with crumbling infrastructure and welfare provision, while Muslims have branded it “un-Islamic” for presenting the human form as an object of worship.

“We have issued a fatwa urging Senegal’s imams this Friday to read the holy Koran in the mosques simply to ask Allah to preserve us from the punishment this monument of shame risks bringing on Senegal,” imam Massamba Diop told followers at his central Dakar mosque, using the term for a religious ruling.

Pro-Wade senator Ahmed Bachir Kounta, a Muslim scholar, said the statue was a cultural project and rejected the charge of idolatry.

“Every architectural work sparks controversies — look at the Eiffel Tower in Paris,” he said of the 19th-century structure labelled by early critics as an expensive eyesore.

Wade, who at 83 has confirmed he will seek re-election in two years’ time, has said he was personally involved in designing the statue. Critics have said it is more Soviet-style realism than traditional African art form.

The monument has been built by North Korean labourers, another source of discontent in a country where formal employment is scarce.

Wade has invited about 30 heads of state to Saturday’s inauguration, a day before the 50th anniversary of Senegal’s independence. U.S.-Senegalese rapper Akon and U.S. civil rights activist Jesse Jackson will also attend.

Opponents of the statue — which is billed as representing Africa’s rise from “centuries of ignorance, intolerance and racism” — are due to protest in central Dakar on Saturday despite a ban on all marches by town authorities.

(Senegal's "African Renaissance" monument, 2010)

www.reuters.com, youtube.com, www.google.com, www.globalpost.com

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