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.”