Monuments in Senegal

Monuments in Senegal
Located along Africa's western coastline, Senegal was once a main hub for slave trade. Since gaining its independence from France in 1960, the country has undergone many political, social and even name changes. Nevertheless, according to the CIA's "World Factbook," Senegal stands out as "one of the most stable democracies in Africa." Tourism is budding, as visitors can browse the bustling marketplaces, stroll along the beautiful beaches, view native wildlife and ecosystems at the scenic Djoudj National Park and experience sites of religious and historical significance throughout the country.

Great Mosque of Touba

The Great Mosque of Touba, built in 1926, is "the most visited Islamic pilgrimage site in West Africa," according to SacredSites.com. Housing the tomb of the Senegalese Islamic saint, Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba, under one of its three giant domes, this mosque also features a giant minaret surrounded by four shorter minarets. Located about 100 miles east of the capital city of Dakar, the mosque is one of the most important holy monuments for Mouride Muslims. Visitors can walk around the complex and take in the scenery and architecture, but only Muslims are allowed to enter(non-Muslims are typically barred from entrance to Senegalese mosques).

Maison des Esclaves

Located just off the mainland, on the Senegalese island of Goree, the Maison des Esclaves ("slave house" in French) is a monument and museum commemorating Africans lost to the slave trade. Now known for its snorkeling and beautiful beaches, Goree was once a main hub for slave traders and operated as such from 1536 until 1848, when French colonial slavery was abolished. The museum is located within the estate of one of the former slave houses, and visitors can see the yards where slaves where auctioned off, the cells in which they were kept and the marks on the walls from where they were weighed. The freedom monument is a statue depicting slaves breaking free from chains and is accompanied by a plaque.

African Renaissance Monument

Located among the central Dakar cityscape, not far from Senegal's beaches, this towering monument to African freedom was unveiled on April 3, 2010, to mark the 50th anniversary of Senegalese independence. Depicting an African man, woman and child emerging triumphantly from a volcano, the African Renaissance Monument stands about 13 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty. While surely a wonder of architecture, this statue has also been surrounded by controversy. For one thing, the apparent helplessness of the woman being saved by the man has been interpreted as sexist; for another, the portrayed woman is quite scantily clad for an almost entirely Muslim society. Finally, the president of Senegal has laid claim to 35 percent of the loosely defined tourism revenue generated by foreign interest in the $28-million monument. The statue's unveiling was met with mass civilian protests.

Article Written By Carl Miller

Carl Miller has been writing professionally since 2007 and has freelanced for the "Western Oregon Journal." His short fiction has been featured in "Northwest Passage Literature and Arts Review." Miller is an English/writing student at Western Oregon University in Monmouth, Ore. He has worked as a cook, painter, waitperson, custodian, data analyst, retail manager and salesperson.

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