Tour at the African Renaissance Monument – Dakar

The aim of this post is to provide some undisclosed things on Africa’s tallest statue which I visited on May 14 2013 in Dakar, the capital of Senegal (West Africa).

The African Renaissance Monument in Dakar (Location: 14.722126, -17.495008) Left to right: a woman, a man, and a child held high up leaving obscurantism going towards the light – Photo by @tndzulo
The African Renaissance Monument in Dakar (Location: 14.722126, -17.495008) Left to right: a woman, a man, and a child held high up leaving obscurantism going towards the light.

The African Renaissance Monument is one of the numerous attractions of Dakar in particular and Senegal in general. I recommend you highlight it on your “list of sites to visit” before leaving that amazingly simple yet distinctly beautiful destination.

A little background

Then President of Senegal, H.E. Abdoulaye Wade had the idea of building the 52m tall monument which was designed by a Senegalese architect and built by a North Korean company (including workers). It is taller than the popular Statue of Liberty (47m).

The Monument on its inauguration day. Photo by B. Beauté
The Monument on its inauguration day. Photo by B. Beauté.

The construction of the statue began on April 3rd, 2008 and was completed in the early 2010. It should be noted that preparations of the site to build the statue went on in 2006. Its formal inauguration took place on April 4th, 2010 in the presence of 19 African Heads of States. April 4 is the country’s National Day since 1960.

The USD 27 million bronze statue which is criticized of being “sexist, un-Islamic and costly” overlooks the Atlantic Ocean in the Ouakam district on top of one of twin hills – the “Collines des Mamelles”.

What does it represent?

There are guides who take you across the impressive bronze structure. They tell the story of the monument which according to the former President’s thought, represents “an Africa emerging from earth’s bowels, leaving obscurantism to go towards the light”. Other voices add that it represents Africa’s rise from “intolerance and racism”. In fact, the bronze structure is composed (from left to right) of a young woman, a man, and a child held high up on the man’s raised left arm. The child points west towards the sea.To further explain the former President’s thought, the guides demonstrate that the statue is facing North West, and specifically pointing the Statue of the Liberty in New York City.

What’s inside the monument?

The bronze monument has 5 publicly accessible levels using a lift and stairs. For a fee of 3000Fcfa (about 6 USD) I offered myself the pleasure to reach the highest point. From bottom to top, this is what you get:

  • Ground floor: Here there is a big hall behind the door entering in the statue. An S-shaped timeline supporting the importance of an African renaissance monument is horizontally placed in the center of the hall which has one of its walls covered with Toshiba branded flat screens, looping a video showing the construction of the monument. In fact, this is where the visit of the monument starts for any visitor.
Partial view of the S-shaped timeline of an African Renaissance monument.
Partial view of the S-shaped timeline of an African Renaissance monument.
  • 1st floor: Here there is an exhibition hall with fine and beautiful paints from around the country. There is also a nice timeline of the African Peoples. A very inspiring place for historians and any person in quest of general knowledge on African.
  • 2nd floor: Here you will find a VIP hall and a projection hall with a quit large seating capacity compared to the projection hall on the 3rd floor.
  • 3rd floor: On the 3rd floor, the statue offers a “Throne Hall” and a small seating capacity projection hall.
Inside the throne hall of Africa’s tallest statue with Irene
Inside the throne hall of Africa’s tallest statue with Irene.
  • The Belvedere: It is the highest place you can visit inside the statue. Without exaggerating, from there, you can have 360° panoramic on the continent and the Atlantic Ocean. In case of power failure rending the lift useless, there is a stair case leading to the exit.
Inside the Belvedere of the African Renaissance Monument
Inside the Belvedere of the African Renaissance Monument. From outside, it is seen at the hat on the man’s head.

In less than 20mn – with the guide, you will visit the entire art work. However, if you are the kind of person who looks at details and marks a stop at every object, I don’t think that one day will be enough to finish the visit.

Phare des Mamelles
The Phare des Mamelles on the Collines des Mamelles. 1.4 Km and 25 mn walk away from the African Renaissance Monument

What’s your opinion?

Have you ever visited this monument? Do you intend to visit it? I’d love to get your opinion about this post or any comment that will improve it. Feel free to use the comment form below.

 

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