Just as we started reading God’s Bits of Wood, Senegal inaugurated a $27m monument called “The Monument of African Renaissance. On Saturday, a 160 ft statue was unveiled to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Senegal’s independence. The BBC article I read about it raises a few points for discussion.

  • The “soviet-style” statue, created in North Korea has received criticism for several reasons. Cost aside, some claim the statue is sexist and idolatrous. Further, many believe that the statue disrespects Muslim beliefs as the female figure is scantily clad. This “African Renaissance” statue appears to be a mosaic of foreign influence. It seems nobody is quite sure what ties the statue to Africa at all. This article, published a few months ago by the BBC, articulates this confusion quite succinctly.
  • The author reports, “Supporters say it represents Africa’s rise from ‘intolerance and racism'”. What an interesting way to phrase this statement. The agents of intolerance and racism seem rather vague here…
  • I checked the NY Times to see what sort of coverage they had of this controversy but it turns out that there is none. The BBC has published several articles regarding the statue, starting on 11 Dec 2009. I wonder why these editorial decisions were made. Poke around the articles if you get a chance (they’re all linked to each other in the “See Also” column on the right-hand side of the page).

And finally, yesterday, President Wade of Senegal announced that Senegal will be taking back control of all military bases held by France. Click here to read more. I didn’t find any mention of this in the NYTimes either. I haven’t had a chance to check out any French newspapers yet. Has anybody noticed anything?