The inauguration of a controversial monument to the “African Renaissance” in Senegal is going ahead amid a storm of protest.
In the latest blow to President Abdoulaye Wade’s project a leading local imam has issued a fatwa condemning the statue as un-Islamic.
The architect, Pierre Goudiaby sees it differently.
“There is no doubt this statue will be one of the seven or eight wonders of the world,” he said. “We are already in the Guiness Book of Records. It’s the highest bronze statue in the world.”
Slightly bigger than New York’s Statue of Liberty the monument has been criticised as a waste of the 21 million euros it has cost to build.
Perched on a hill overlooking the Senegalese capital Dakar, the giant structure is supposed to represent Africa’s rise from “ignorance, intolerance and racism”.
Opponents point to the country’s crumbling infrastructure, high unemployment levels and poor welfare provision.
One angry protest leader said: “We have problems with electricity. We have problems everywhere in society. And Wade has spent millions on just one statue.”
Some 30 heads of state are attending today’s inauguration ceremony.
Protesters are planning a rally in Dakar despite a local authority ban on marches.