News / Africa

Senegal Marks 50 Years Of Independence With Calls For African Unity

President Wade's pan-African dream symbolized by enormous bronze statue inaugurated Saturday

Anne Look

Senegal, which is celebrating 50 years of independence, has unveiled a monument to the African Renaissance amid calls for African unity.  The statue is proving controversial with its multi-million-dollar price tag in a country plagued by poverty.

"In my Dream" is the first single from an album called "Presidents of Africa" by Senegalese hip-hop artist Didier Awadi.  The singer traveled to 40 African countries over the past five years collaborating with local artists on the album, which incorporate speeches of great African leaders.

Awadi says the album is meant to be a wake-up call for African youth and a reminder of the pan-African dreams of those great leaders at the time of independence.

What is left of those dreams? Awadi says that is the question posed in this album. Is that dream still tolerated, he asks, and have its objectives been attained?

Ask Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade, and he will tell you the pan-African dream is alive and well and symbolized in the form of an enormous bronze statue inaugurated Saturday.

Hundreds of supporters cheered, and drums pounded at the foot of the Monument to the African Renaissance, located on a hill in Dakar overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

The statue, which is nearly 50 meters tall, depicts a muscled man emerging from a volcano, pulling a woman behind him and holding a baby aloft toward the West.

President Wade says the statue symbolizes Africa, reborn and reinvigorated, after five centuries of slavery and colonialism. Africa, he says, is upright and resolved to take its future in hand.

At the inauguration, standing before 22 African heads of state and numerous international guests, President Wade said the time for African unity is now.

Mr. Wade says only political unity will allow the African continent, rich in territory, manpower and natural resources, to take its true place in the world order.

Though many at the event praised President Wade as a visionary, the monument has sparked considerable controversy in Senegal.

Muslims have protested its depiction of the human form, particularly that of the scantily-clad female figure. Politicians and civic leaders have deplored the statue's $27 million price tag in a country plagued by poverty, constant power cuts and flooding.

Senegal's main opposition coalition, Bennoo Siggil Senegaal, demonstrated Saturday morning in Dakar to protest what it called the "monument to the president's megalomania."

Opposition leader Talla Sylla says the statue is not a priority in Senegal. He says "we need to get the population out of flooded areas in Dakar, to help Senegalese have a better life, to get housing, food, clothing, to help the numerous children of this country get education." The priorities of the country, he says, are health and security, not a statue.

President Wade also announced that Senegal will take back three French military bases that house some 1,200 troops, in what he called a final break with Senegal's former colonial ruler.

Mr. Wade said the anniversary not only marks 50 years of independence for Senegal, but also a chance to usher in a new era for the country and for a unified African continent.

You May Like

Cambodia Seeks Official UN Maps for Vietnam Border

Notice of request comes as 2 countries open border talks Tuesday after a clash last month More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Maia Pujara
July 07, 2015 10:01 PM
A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbs

A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs