Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the African Renaissance Monument is a 161 ft tall bronze statue located on top of one of the twin hills outside Dakar, Senegal. Designed by Senegalese architect, Pierre Goudiaby, it symbolizes Senegal and Africa—emerging from centuries of slavery and colonialism.
I visited the monument during my recent pilgrimage to Senegal and The Gambia (that’s me at the bottom). Despite controversies that surround this monument, I could not deny the power of its presence and the energy field that surged through my body as I stood beneath its spectacular grandeur.
I like the monument because it depicts the strength and valor of the African family in its own primal Essence and in direct relationship with the Creator, without allusion to religion or other intermediary constructs. While I can appreciate Islamic disapproval related to standards for corporeal modesty (Senegal is 82% Muslim), I like the man’s bare and rippled chest which exudes raw strength and virility. I like the supple beauty of the woman’s body that exudes fertility and sustenance.
Lastly, I like the alignment of the three figures with the Child who points the way, due North. I study dreams from an archetypal perspective and the Renaissance child reminds me of the Child archetype who represents our raw, unfettered, unfiltered, un-copted Soul and Essence. It causes me to reflect on my primordial African-ness, my true Essence naturally ordained by the Creator—the primal energy, force, creativity, autonomy—my “Nguzu Saba-ness”—before the trauma of colonialization, enslavement and all its subsequent chaos and compensations, on both sides of the Atlantic. The Child points the way to a now and future that can be most functional and bright in every dimension.
I hope the heart of Senegal and the heart of all Africa, including her diaspora, will come to embrace this monument to the African Renaissance. May religion, dogma and creed divide us no more. UMOJA (unity) and AMANDLA (power)!
Grace Cheptu is a minister, dreamworker, spiritual guide, teacher, musician and writer who addresses the spiritual concerns of those who are journeying back “home” to their essential selves. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to unpack the power and messages of your dreams.