Sunday, April 11, 2010

Senegal's 'Idolatrous' Statue Unveiled

Senegal inaugurated its giant "African Renaissance" monument, brushing aside complaints that the personal project of President Abdoulaye Wade was a waste of money and un-Islamic.

One imam in the mainly Muslim West African state issued a fatwa on Friday condemning the statue, of a man, woman and infant, as idolatrous, a charge dismissed by Mr Wade's allies.

Slightly bigger than the Statue of Liberty, the $28 million (£18.4m) copper monument overlooking the capital Dakar has been criticised as a waste of money in a country with crumbling infrastructure and welfare provision.

More than a dozen heads of state, including Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe and Ivory Coast's Laurent Gbagbo, attended the statue's inauguration, which coincided with the country celebrating 50 years of independence from France.

"Every architectural work sparks controversies – look at the Eiffel Tower in Paris," pro-Wade senator Ahmed Bachir Kounta said.

Mr Wade, 83, who 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 50m-tall monument has been built by North Korean labourers, another source of discontent in a country where formal employment is scarce.

Many Dakar residents, struggling with increasingly frequent power cuts, disintegrating city roads, rising living costs and scarce formal employment have mixed feelings about the monument.

Source: The Scotsman
By Andy Sullivan

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