“but I am the designer, the one who conceived it”

If you thought public art here was problematic, and it is, spare a thought for the people of Senegal. In an attempt to deflect criticism from representatives of the majority group of supernaturalists in the country [90% Muslim] – of a frankly hideous, oversized [50m], socialist realism bronze statue being constructed by North Korea at a cost of $27m (£16.6m) – the Senegalese President, Abdoulaye Wade, has offended representatives of the minority group [6% Christian]. According to Gambia’s online Freedom Newspaper

The president told a gathering at a national teachers conference in Dakar that while Catholics pray to someone who is not God, no one talks about that, yet they continue to attack his monument which, he maintains, is purely meant to preserve the cultural heritage of the continent of Africa. “They pray to a man, Jesus Christ, someone who is not a God. People do not find anything to tell them, nobody makes any objection, including myself. When I go to church, I am not interested in what goes on inside, because I am a Muslim. This is not my problem,” the president, whose French wife is a practicing Christian, said amid rapturous applause from the audience.

Which seems a perfectly rational, if somewhat limited, response to accusations that the statue is idolatrous.. ANYhoo.. President Wade has reportedly sent his cabinet minister son, Karim, to apologise to the Catholic Archbishop of Dakar. But this BBC report in November identified the real controversy

When he visited the building site in September, he explained how the money generated from people visiting the site and its museums would be shared. “The land is state property and the fees to build the statue have been paid by the state… but I am the designer, the one who conceived it,” said Mr Wade. “So we should see how we share the benefits. The state will go with 65% and l shall take 35% for myself.”

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  • pinni

    Located on the most westerly point of Africa I am wondering if this westward-facing, monogamous, heterosexual nuclear family portrayed by the statue is a subliminal message that Africa is looking elsewhere for its renaissance. It would be a shame if it is.

  • Pete Baker

    pinni

    Wade studied [on a scholarship] at the lycée Condorcet in France. College at Besançon, France -doctorate in law and economics. Met his wife Viviane Vert there. Worked as a barrister in Besançon before returning to Senegal where he opened his own law firm and began teaching courses at the University of Dakar.

    Subsequent professorial activities include econometrics research at Boston University, lecturing in the faculties of law and economics at Paris II, and consulting for the Organization of African Unity and the African Development Bank. Member of the Stockholm-based International Academy of Comparative Law. Awarded the French Legion of Honor.

    More details here.

    Is the “designer” of this monument looking elsewhere?

    Possibly…