Dakar, Senegal (2010) – A sculpture by Pierre Goudiaby on the west coast of Africa is a source of grandeur and controversy. MONUMENT DE LA RENAISSANCE AFRICAINE, a large, looming statue of a mother, father, and child in a quasi-militaristic pose that invokes images of patriarchy, domination, and—in an odd twist for a heavily Muslim country—overt female sexuality, was installed in April 2010 near the airport in Dakar, Senegal. The piece was commissioned by the government to represent Africa’s common past and shared goals for the future, say Senegalese leaders, but the $28 million statue has left a bad taste in the mouths of some citizens and opponents of the government who say the money could have been better spent to help citizens in this deeply impoverished country. Other detractors are up in arms about the seemingly helpless, scantily-clad woman, an affront to fundamentalist Muslim sensibilities.
The sculpture, which was planned to memorialize the fiftieth anniversary of Senegal’s independence, is taller than the Statue of Liberty and, government leaders hope, will become as renowned as the New York City attraction; they hope the statue will generate enough in tourist dollars to help lift Senegal citizens, who suffer daily water and electricity shortages, out of poverty. Click here to learn more.