In news from Senegal, a statue commissioned by that country’s President Abdoulaye Wade is at the center of heated controversy. Supposedly commissioned to increase tourism to Senegal, the statue is now at the center of what could be a rift between the country’s Christian and Muslim citizens. Wade having just apologized for insinuating the statue resembled Jesus apparently being too little too late, people there question the spending and intent now.
According to a BBC report, Wade has said that he would keep one third of the tourist revenue generated by the statue for himself prior to his “Jesus” comparison. Skeptics in Senegal questioned the value of building the $27 million dollar, North Korean crafted work all along. With this latest PR blunder Wade has further distanced himself from not only the country’s relatively small Christian constituency, but Muslim citizens suffering economic crisis as well. Apparently, Wade compared the statue to those of Jesus Christ in churches in a rather lame effort to deflect other criticisms.
The statue, which will be larger than the Statue of Liberty when completed later this year, is ironically supposed to symbolize Senegal’s fight against racism. Wade sent his son, Karim, to deliver his personal apology to Archbishop Sarr, but apparently the damage has been done. Christian youths clashed with security forces outside Dakar cathedral Wednesday, hurling rocks and shouting their disapproval.
The Archbishop said the Christian community was shaken by the events, and appealed for cool heads under the circumstances. According to the latest statistics on Senegal, the average person there makes less than $1.50 per day, far below the international poverty level. Wade’s wisdom in building such a monument falls far short of advisable given this and other facts.