The Motherland of Africa offers much for visitors to experience, from the lush rain forests of Sierra Leone to the sweeping, mysterious deserts of Egypt.

You’ll also find many statues commemorating important figures and specific periods of history. Some are stand-alone works, while others are part of public squares in major cities.

The political implications of these works is difficult to dispute. According to NPR, the recent push in the US to remove colonial-era statues actually took its cue from what has been going on in Africa for years.

“In Kenya,” noted the publication, “the statue of King George that stood in the middle of downtown was removed shortly after independence,” and was replaced a decade later by one of Jomo Kenyatta, the country’s first president. Also, at the University of Cape Town, in South Africa, a statue of Cecil Rhodes, “a white supremacist who pillaged his way through southern Africa and built a vast diamond empire,” was taken down after being continuously pelted with a variety of unpleasant substances.

Be sure to have your camera ready when visiting these statues and monuments across Africa.

1. The African Renaissance Monument


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If you’re in the Senegalese capital of Dakar, this bronze group statue is sure to catch your eye.

Unveiled in 2010, the man, woman and child are sculpted in a “socialist-realism” style, and all of them are facing the sea. The idea was to commemorate Senegal’s independence, but it’s gotten its share of criticism due to the exorbitant cost and the partial nudity of the figures.

You can walk up to it for free, or for a small cost, take the elevator to the top of the man’s head for stunning views of the city.

It’s the tallest statue in Africa.

2. The Great Sphinx


No list of awe-inspiring statues and monuments in Africa is complete without including the Sphinx of Egypt.

This limestone structure of a mythical creature with a lion’s body and a human head, was built approximately 5,000 years ago, according to History. It’s on the Giza plateau.

There’s some debate about why the nose is missing, but according to Egypt Today, “it was broken during one of the French military battles near Giza, during the French campaign in Egypt in 1798.”

3. Queen Moremi Statue of Liberty


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This statue in Nigeria is the tallest in the country and the fourth tallest on the continent.

Erected in 2016, it’s approximately 42 feet tall and shows Queen Moremi, who was considered a heroine by the Yoruba people.

According to Amazons Watch, “she was constructed by a team of about 200 Nigerian youths with materials sourced locally from the 774 local government areas in Nigeria.”


4. Nelson Mandela Statue

There are several works of art honoring Mandela in Africa and around the world. The largest is in Pretoria, South Africa.

The former leader is shown with his arms spread, making it quite different from other depictions.

When it was unveiled in 2013 shortly after Mandela’s death, then South African president Jacob Zuma said, “you will notice that in all the statues that have been made of Madiba (Mandela), he is raising his fist and at times stretching it. This one is different from many. He is stretching out his hands. He is embracing the whole nation.”

5. Emperor Menelik II Statue


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Unveiled in Ethiopia in 1931, this statue has a message which reads, “it is not greatness to hail from a prominent family, greatness (triumph) is to contribute something valuable to the motherland.”

Menelik II, who was one of the last monarchs in Ethiopia, is shown riding a horse. He led his country in the Battle of Adwa against Italy in 1896.

According to the Library of Congress, “the defeat of the Italians was a major blow to the industrial world because it heralded the beginning of resistance against the industrial powers and the struggle for independence by the colonized African nations.”

6. Independence Square Monuments


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This public square in Accra is the site of Ghana’s celebrations of independence, which it won on March 6, 1957. It is made up of three monuments.

The Liberation Day Monument is in honor of the Burma campaign veterans who fought in World War II.

It can be challenging to take up-close pictures of Independence Arch, which is closely guarded by soldiers.

Lastly, the Black Star Monument (or Black Star Gate) has Freedom and Justice blasted on its front and the year 1957 above it.

7. The Great Pyramid

Another Egyptian treasure, the Great Pyramid was executed with such precision that it amazes onlookers even today.

It’s the largest of the trio of pyramids.

According to Khan Academy, “with a base length of more than 230 meters (750 feet) per side, the greatest difference in length among the four sides of the pyramid is a mere 4.4 cm (1 ¾ inches) and the base is level within 2.1 cm (less than an inch). This is an astonishing accomplishment that would be a challenge to replicate today even with modern equipment.”