President Koroma attends Senegalâ€™s Golden Jubilee celebrations
President Ernest Bai Koroma led a government delegation on Good Friday to attend the fiftieth Independence celebrations of the Republic of Senegal.
The celebrations started in earnest on Saturday with Senegalese Head of State Abdulaye Wade opening an intellectual forum, named â€˜International Colloquium on the African Renaissanceâ€™ at the conference hall of the Meridien Hotel in Dakarâ€™s business district.
In his speech, President Wade gave an intellectual treatise of the origin of the idea behind the superimposing super-human monument he has constructed in a hilly area of central Dakar overlooking the rest of the city. â€œI am not a historian. I just read History; I just love History,â€ President Wade maintained to an audience having in its midst reputable historians from across the continent.
He revealed that the idea of an African renaissance was first propagated by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, while he (Wade) initiated the idea of a representative monument of the African renaissance as encapsulated in his book â€˜A Destiny For Africa.â€™
In this book, according to him, he wrote under the title â€˜Key Role Of France And the United States of Americaâ€™: â€œIf I were a sculptor, I would set up three characters, the arms outstretched in an embracing outburst. Two on a higher step, Europe and the United States, are standing closer. The third one, Africa, slightly away, with its striking features of purity and strength, too, stretches out its arm. The issue is not to find out whether embracing will occur, but rather when and how we can work at it and substitute four centuries of conflicting relations, originally founded on the triangular slave trade, for an alliance of convenience, cultural complementaries [sic] of souls and mutual friendship. The symbol can become a reality if the construction relies equally strongly on Blacks in Africa, in America and in Europe, because after all, they are the common denominator. A way of saying somewhat that Africa will be the pedestal of this construction.â€
On the geographical location of the monument, President Wade said, â€œâ€¦One day, as I was passing by the second mammal hill [in central Dakar], my eyes were attracted by the top of the hill and in a flashing vision, I saw a giant African athlete bursting out of the volcano and filling the space, followed by his wife and holding his child in one arm as if they were propelled outside. I was not dreaming. The picture became strongly engraved into my mind and I understood then that the African Renaissance propelled by immense forces of fire and energy from the inner guts of the earth and drawn by another force coming from the sky was to happen ineluctablyâ€¦.. This African man bursting out of the volcano facing the West, with his wife and his child lifted up in the sky as if to be introduced to the world, was the symbol of Africa that freed itself from several centuries of imprisonment in the abysmal depths of racism, ignorance, intolerance, to re-conquer its place on this earth that belongs to all races, in the air, in the light and freedom.â€
Married to a white French lady, President Wade did not mince his words about the horrors of slavery and the current European discrimination against black people. He insisted that black people contributed to and built the free world through slavery, but now â€œEurope is closing its doors on Africa. We are being rejectedâ€¦The principle of freedom of movement does not apply when it comes to Africans wanting to go to Europeâ€¦ The door is closed for us. Only a small window is open; but even with that small window, there is a lot of selectivity. Europe is opening its doors to millions of other people, but closing its doors to black Africansâ€¦â€ He however said that Africa will not retaliate by closing its doors on white people: â€œAfrica is the last border where migration stops. Africa has to remain an open continent in order to develop. America developed because its doors were, and are still, very much open to allâ€¦.â€ President Wade maintained that the three-human-family statue â€œis an artistic and cultural infrastructure conveying a political message of black Africa and its Diaspora to the world: [that] Africa once relegated to darkness for centuries and to obscurantism [sic] is rising now and tomorrow.â€
It was actually in the afternoon of Saturday 3rd April that the 50-metre (164 feet) Senegalese-artist-designed North-Korean-constructed 27-million-dollar bronze statue, dubbed â€˜The Monument of African Renaissanceâ€™, was officially inaugurated.
The fanfare-inundated ceremony virtually brought Dakar to a standstill, as in attendance were tens of Heads of State mainly from across the continent, African Americans including Rev. Jesse Jackson (who gave a speech) and the membership of Americaâ€™s National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, and also Arabs and white Europeans, while featuring hundreds of drummers and dancers.
In his speech to the gathering on the foot of the hill at Ouakam in Dakar, where each African countryâ€™s flag was flying, President Wade said the monument marked the rebirth of Africa: “It brings to life our common destiny. Africa has arrived in the 21st century standing tall and more ready than ever to take its destiny into its hands,” hoping that the statue (taller than the Statue of Liberty in America) will become a major tourist attraction. A staircase leads to the top of the manâ€™s head, from where virtually the whole of Dakar can be viewed
In the evening, President Koroma joined President Wade and other Heads of State at a banquet at the Meridien Hotel.
On Independence Day Sunday 4th April 2010, Senegal displayed its utmost capabilities in terms of cultural and military assemblage as thousands marched past accompanied by armoury, tanks, and vehicles in a spectacular military parade of virtually all ages and indeed both sexes at the â€˜Place of Nationâ€™ on mainland Dakar. After the five-hour parade, President Wade spoke to the nation through a somewhat on-the-spot media briefing, calling for national unity for national development and stressing that â€œSenegal belongs to all Senegalese.â€
Both ceremonies (i.e. African Renaissance Monument inauguration and Independence Day parade) were shown live on Senegalese TV and on big screens around the city.
President Koroma and entourage included Minister of Foreign Affairs Zainab Bangura and Minister of Tourism Hindolo Trye. They return to Sierra Leone this afternoon (Easter Monday) without the Foreign Minister who proceeds to Cairo, Egypt.
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I’m sorry, but I can’t agree with both of your comments. Why should one’s racial/political outlook matter when it comes to marrying someone you want to marry? Surely one would need to have a deep understanding of his life in order to appreciate the circumstances in which he came to marry his wife, not just speak of it purely in racial terms.
I also struggled to find any hidden messages pertaining to ‘Black Power’ in the article – he was speaking about African unity, in the context of which we have some African countries whose inhabitants aren’t exactly…’Black’. The sooner we move away from this harmful doctrine of race, the better.
On another note, I think that this statue in Senegal is a monstrously inappropriate waste of money, especially considering how many better uses of the resources exist (e.g. building railways/roads/schools etc). Not to mention that it’s not really original and really quite vulgar.
At any rate, I find that the less is said – that is, the less frequent the hyperbolic rhetoric – the more is actually done, and vice versa.12th June 2010
At any rate
Nice thoughts but Africa as nation needs to unite…..until then People like Wade can marry as many white women as he wants and talk Black power out the side of his mouth. LOL….what a joke…5th April 2010
Married and had children with a “white woman, credibility 0.5th April 2010