Senegal: President builds $27 million statue, claims tourism profits over "intellectual rights."

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade is reported to have commissioned a 160-ft high bronze statue commemorating the "African Renaissance." The AP says it costs $27 million to build. As you can see above, the stature, "shows a muscular man in a heroic posture, outstretched arms wrapped around his wife and child, who is balanced on one of his biceps," Note: Senegal contains no volcanoes. Cyrus Farivar blogs:
senegal.jpg * President Wade, according to the AP: "[maintains] he is entitled to 35 percent of any tourist revenues it generates because he owns "intellectual rights" for conceiving the idea, with the rest to go to the government."

* AP adds: "Nearly 50 North Korean workers from the state-run Mansudae Art Studio in Pyongyang were brought in to build the statue because of their expertise with bronze art, and some Senegalese have complained of its communist-era design."

African Renaissance statue in Dakar angers locals


  1. A grotesque white-elephant project, with a heavy dose of corruption and kleptocratic governance, might well be a more accurate symbol than whatever the statue is actually supposed to be of. Pity.

  2. This just goes to show how Africa is doing it all wrong. With it’s left hand the statue should be holding a money sack, not a baby. And with it’s right hand instead of holding a woman it should be pushing some poor bloke’s face to the ground. That’s how I would have done it.

  3. Just think what US$ 27 Million could have done in Senegal! Not the least in contributing to garbage (so visible in the photo) collection? Or in refurbishing hospitals! Improving education, maybe! Given the social statistics of the country, the possibilities are endless… But it was obviously more important to flatter the ego of an autocratic gerontocrat who has little sense of public service and is looking to fill his pocket though these alleged “intellectual rights”. Poor Senegal!

  4. The North Korean connection is interesting.

    NK has strongly assisted, or is even financing, the Heroes’ Acre monument to Namibian independence in Windhoek, as well as the new State House (where the President lives) which only really needs a monorail system carrying armed goons for the resemblance to a cheap knock-off of a James Bond villain’s lair to be complete. Locals joke that the dome houses opens up so that a rocket can shoot at the sun.

    Seems that NK has a hankering for erecting things where people will actually see them. So to speak.

  5. @ Dominic

    They could have just hired the North Koreans because they have lots of work experience in erecting grotesquely over sized statues in heroic poses. Who else could make statues so perfect that no one would ever know the Great Leader has a baseball sized boil on his neck?

  6. why is it that those who actually have access to huge sums of cash seem to be the least qualified people to have access to large sums of cash?

    they should have just put up a giant, towering, gold-plated middle finger.

  7. I lived in Senegal for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer back in 2000-2002, during the time in which President Wade came into power. While I can understand the critical comments posted by others a couple things about Senegal are worth noting:

    1. Corruption, though common, is still on par with the corruption found in our own government (Wackenhut & Halliburton anyone?) and throwing stones just because this is an African nation is at best hypocritical and at worst racist.

    2. Senegal has had a continuous peaceful and democratic government since its independence in 1960. Mr. Wade himself is from an opposition party that successfully took power from Leopold Seder Senghor’s ruling party.

    3. Though quite poor, Senegal is not a starving country. Apart from the occasional drought or locust plague the country is generally able to support itself and is the jewel of the region both politically and economically.

    All this to say, we can certainly criticize another nation’s “bridge to nowhere” but we in the US aren’t much better off in ensuring that government funds are properly spent and don’t end in politician’s pockets, so speaking of this as an “African problem” or saying this is what is wrong in Africa is simply untrue. Senegal struggles with a lack of infrastructure due to a harsh environment (since it abuts the Sahara) and a very long history of colonial intervention, disruption and exploitation.

    What exactly is our excuse?

    On a side note, Senegal is 95% Muslim and the particular Sufi brotherhood most popular in the country is pacifist in nature, which is a large part of the reason why the country obtained independence without military conflict. The Muslims here also actively prevent the adoption of Sharia law and the intervention of Imams in the political activities of the country due to their local Muslim prophet Chiekh Ahmadou Bamba Mbacke’s edicts establishing a separation of religious and political powers.

    I highly recommend a visit, while the animals are neither as abundant or varied as they may be in East Africa (thank you French and American big game hunters), the people are amazingly welcoming due to the local concept of “Teranga” (hospitality) and most of your stay will be spent turning down invitations to eat or stay with people you meet casually.

  8. Well said, Conrad. I’m a Peace Corps Volunteer currently serving a third year in Senegal (I did my first two in The Gambia). I agree we must keep in mind that corruption abounds in the U.S. — it’s certainly not a problem exclusive to Africa — but the fact that Pres. Wade claims he’s entitled to a portion of the profits related to the statue is ridiculous.

    In this article, below, the architect explains their argument that they aren’t using “public funds” to finance the statue’s construction. But they sold public land and used that money, so who’s money are we talking about? The public’s!

  9. Conrad, thanks so much for your informative and thoughtful post, such a breath of fresh air on the internet…

  10. A breath of fresh air on the internet, indeed. Thanks for the wonderfully written post, Conrad. I studied abroad in Senegal and could not have come up with a better way to say the same thing. A relieving comment to read.

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