World renowned artist and Los Angeles-based portrait sculptor Nijel Binns, President and CEO of Nijart International, LLC, led a delegation of 7 people to Yaounde, Cameroon to meet with Cameroon Prime Minister Philemon Yang and other state officials to consider an offer of 80 hectares of land to Nijart International for the construction and development of a 95 meter tall sculptor/observation tower known as the Mother of Humanity® Monument and a surrounding themed park, Motherland.
“The Mother of Humanity is a symbol of peace,” Binns said.
The statue was birthed after a dark time in Los Angeles’ history.
“I came up with the idea after the riots in 1992,” he said. “I wanted to do something as an artist to help unify people because the response, after the riots, people were doing softball games and get-togethers—real attempts at trying to bring people together but I knew it wouldn’t last. There had to be something in the community that lasted for decades.”
Binns unveiled the 16 foot tall bronze sculpture in Watts, California on May 11, 1996. It sits in the center of the Watts Labor Community Action Committee Center in Watts, CA. Binns spoke about the symbolism of the statue and what he created it to mean for the community.
“I chose a woman because when you do any DNA studies, you find that the origins of humanity goes back to a woman—and it goes back specifically to the African woman. So that statue had to be the mother of humanity representing Africa and then the entire world,” he said.
He also discussed the meaning of the feather located on the statue.
“[Maat] used the feather in the whole mythology of her existence to use it on the scales of justice at the end of our lives. The feather represents, peace, truth and righteousness,” he said.“Anytime we have questions about the Mother of Humanity and what direction it should go, we always look back to that feather.”
Under the banner of the Mother of Humanity® Monument AFRICA Project, Binns has created a project to honor Africa with a gift of a monumental sculpture on behalf of the people of the United States of America and the African diaspora.
Nijart International has partnered with non-governmental organization (NGO) ARK (Acts of Random Kindness) Jammers, Inc., to partner with Nijel Binns to assist him in actualizing his vision for Africa.
“Sam Houston, who is a member of ARK Jammers… came to my show on the very last day because he heard of the Mother of Humanity project I had planned for Africa,” Binns said. “He got in touch with the head organization… and before I knew it, I had a letter from the prime minister’s office inviting me to Cameroon and offering me property to build the monument.”
On Binns original list for the monument were places like Ethiopia, Tanzania, Ghana and now Cameroon. He hasn’t received the same kind of invitations from the other African nations on his list yet but is still considering all his options. According to Binns there are political challenges with each of the nations.
“It’s going to be a long process,” said Binns.
The new 95 meter tall version for Africa would be twice the size of the Statue of Liberty and would be the largest sculptural monument in Africa.
“The statue of liberty was the idea of a man who was the head of the French anti-slavery society,” Binns said. “So get this, we have a Frenchman in France who’s concern is the freeing of the slaves in America and he wants to create a symbol to celebrate the freeing of the slaves.”
Binn notes that there’s similarity in what he’s doing—creating a symbol of peace that as a gift from the world to Africa.
“This is our gift, this is our gift,” Binns said. “We have to take ownership of the Mother of Humanity.”
Binns was shown potential sites in the Cameroon cities of Yaounde, Limbe, and Kribi. Highlights of his tour include a visit the ruins of the Bimbia Slave Port in Limbe, and attending the country’s 50th Anniversary celebration of Cameroon’s National Youth Day.
“I was honored to join him and 6 others to form an 8 member delegation on a business trip venture to Yaounde Cameroon Africa,” said local artist, Al Hornsby.
Another surprise for Binns during his trip was the unveiling of another one of his works of art in Ethiopia, a life-sized bronze statue of Tuskegee airmen, Colonel John Charles Robinson. The aviation pioneer is responsible for training pilots that would serve in the Imperial Ethiopian Air Force and future commercial airlines.
Avline Ava, President and CEO of ARK Jammers and Binns will commence a three city tour of the United States this month. They’ll begin in Los Angeles, where they hope to lobby political leaders, and celebrity superstars for their support for what will become the largest monument in Africa.
On May 11, the 20th Anniversary of the unveiling of the Mother of Humanity® Monument in Watts, Nijel Binns will make his final announcement regarding which African nation he has selected to become the home for the towering 313 ft. Mother of Humanity® Monument.
“The whole purpose of the monument is to help unify people, to bring peace,” said Binns. “We need it now, in this day and age as much as we did back when I came up with the statue.”
Brian W. Carter contributed to this article.