Senegal

April 26, 2013


Sometimes you can simply look at a map and guess where a separatist movement will arise. Sure enough that bottom strip of Senegal (the Casamance area south of The Gambia enclave) has been home to a simmering separatist movement for several decades.

Dakar was the capital of the vast region that was French West Africa (later split into eight separate countries). That role probably pushed it toward wide boulevards and its "mid-century modern" downtown.  Of course Dakar continued as the capital of Senegal when it became an independent country in 1960.


In 2010, the African Renaissance Monument was completed on top of hill near Dakar.  At 161 feet, it is the tallest statue in Africa and the Americas. Although it does not top the giant Buddhas in Asia, it is huge.

Sure, critics complain about its cost, exaggerated bodies, facial designs, North Korean builders, Soviet Realism style, kitsch, and more -- but, hey, I like brash, ambitious, colossal, over-the-top projects.

Not far by ferry from the port of Dakar is Goree Island, an old restored colonial town, promoted to tourists as a major point for transporting millions of slaves. There is debate about that, however.  As one historian put it, "We can understand Goree as important and interesting without extravagant claims about numbers."

Left:  Lots of Senegal school kids were on field trips to Goree Island the day I visited.
Right: The small building said to have been the main center for transporting slaves.
Bottom:  A panorama of the restored colonial town on the small island.
Map: The easternmost point on the mainland of "Afro-Euroasia" is Cape Vert
near Dakar, Senegal, pertruding off the east coast of Africa.
Photo: Near Cape Vert was this returning fishing boat with women buying their
haul to resell downtown, while a pelican watches patiently hoping for some scraps.
I'm not a "birder," but this fantastic foul landed on the
hood of the next parked car near Cape Vert.
It matches photos of the "Black Crowned Crane."