The famous monument located at the Rond-Point Deido in Douala is currently at the centre of discussions between fine arts amateurs and professionals in Cameroon. No, this impressive 12m high metal sculpture was not broken; but even worse! Over half of the monument’s base has been covered with concrete by the Société Anonyme des Brasseries du Cameroun (Sabc). The brewery wants to promote its flagship brand: the “33 Export” beer.
In this period of Africa Women’s Cup of Nations, SABC dropped banner branding, TV spots and other communication support and rather chose to update a work of art. The concrete part of the monument has a pyramidal form; giving the impression that Joseph Francis Sumegne’s statue wears a skirt. A skirt which certainly gave a start to the well-known artist.
We can imagine that he gasped when he learned that this piece crafted during a decade, is now an advertising medium. The 2016 women’s AfCON is an opportunity to sell tourism, art and culture for Cameroon. And to go to Limbe (close to Douala), visitors pass in front of two symbols of the economic capital: the bridge over the Wouri (in decay and under repair) and the Nouvelle Liberté statue, with 2/3 of it now covered.
Since this monument was set up in downtown Douala in 2007, it has always been an issue… for the Sawas notability and some members of the Administration. Just like its form and the material used to build it. By requesting it, Marilyn Douala Bell’s cultural centre Doual’art knew exactly what to expect. Joseph Frnacis Sumegne is indeed known for making sculptures with scrap material (old shoes, old tyres, broken fans, etc.). It is from this waste that the artist creates beauty. And the Nouvelle Liberté statue has always been a symbol of the colonisation waste which Cameroon succeeded in transforming to be born again and reclaim its “freedom”. A freedom which is today choked with …reinforced concrete.