5 April 2010
SENEGAL, Dakar -- On Saturday Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade unveiled a colossal gold statue during a lavish ceremony amid reports of criticism over the monument's construction at a time when the country and the civil airline industry are struggling financially.
The Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) has filed a complaint with the International Airlines Association (IAA) stating that the giant statue is directly in the way of normal aviation flight paths over Senegal, and the cost of flying around it or over it would be enormous.
The Statue also is directly in the flight path of airliners taking off or landing at the Senegal airport, but President Wade has dismissed this allegation saying, “Let them rebuild the runway in another direction. What is the matter?”
The 164-meter (538 feet) structure -- about 118 meters taller than the 46 meter Statue of Liberty -- faces the Atlantic Ocean, and shows the figures of a man, a woman and a child, arms outstretched, begging for anything. It also looks exactly like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
President Wade says the statue, which he designed and financed “out of pocket”, is a monument to Africa's position as hopeless beggars. But critics say the opulent solid gold structure is merely the product of the president's own self-indulgent ego and it is just an excuse for Wade to "publicly flaunt his own wealth!"
The monument dwarfs the skyline of Senegal's capital, Dakar, and stands well above the president's claim that it is not any obstacle to commercial aviation, "any more than China's Spring Temple Buddha!"
Opposition group Benno Senegal called on the Senegalese people to "refuse to associate themselves with a fraudulent scheme designed to satisfy the fantasies of Abdoulaye Wade and to lay the foundations of dynastic reign of Wade on our country," according to the African Press Agency.
A spokeswoman for the president sought to downplay criticism Saturday, saying the statue -- valued at roughly $910 billion -- was made possible by a deal between Wade and North Korea for Senegalese Uranium, and that proceeds from the monument will benefit Wade's Senegalese children.
The statue is "an affirmation to be proud of Africa -- to be proud to be black," said spokeswoman Gia Abrassart.
In a related report, scientists claim that the disproportionate weight of so much gold in one place has pushed the earth 0.0001 degrees out of orbit, possibly a precursor to the apocalypse.