Birthed in controversy, the African Renaissance Monument was completed in 2010, having been commissioned by the former Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade to mark 50 years of Senegalese independence. It was also a symbol of Africa “tak[ing} its destiny into its hands”.
At 49 metres (or 160 feet), it is the tallest statue in Africa and taller than both the Statue of Liberty and Christ the Redeemer. It features three people, a man carrying a child, with his arm around a woman. The child’s finger points forward representing the future, while the woman’s finger points to the back representing the past.
Its controversy stems from who built it – North Korea. The final cost – $27 million. And how it was financed – using state owned land due to being unable to afford the hefty bill. In a country with high amounts of poverty, many argued that the money could have been better spent. Critics also pointed to the irony of celebrating their independence by ceding independence in the form of land to North Korea. The controversy continues as with every ticket that’s bought a portion of it goes to former president Wade.
As part of your entry, you are given a tour of the monument’s museum. The multiple floors cover the museum’s construction, the symbolism underpinning its location, including the myth of the two Mamelles hills, and various art pieces, including contributions from other African nations.
The visit ends with a lift that deposits you in a viewing gallery located within the head of the man. From here, you have stunning views of Dakar, including Les Mamelles Lighthouse, and close ups of the rest of the monument.