Nowhere in human history has a monument ever been created to honor the African woman as mitochondrial “Eve”, that one woman whose dna gave birth to every person on Earth.  That all changed on Mother’s Day, May 11, 1996 when Los Angeles artist and sculptor Nijel Binns unveiled his 16 foot tall bronze monument in Watts…“The Mother of Humanity®” monument.  It was his response to the 1992 Los Angeles riots that tore the city apart along racial lines.  His trademarked creation made a statement that there are no separate races and that we all belong to one race, and that is the human race.  The sculptor envisions five identical copies in Australia, Brazil, China, India and Spain, to create places of healing.  His most challenging version will be a colossal 313 foot tall monument in Africa, birthplace of humanity, and the cradle of civilization.

As a sculptor, Nijel Binns has long held a tradition of answering the call of justice and healing through his art.  His Shirley Temple monument that was commissioned of the legendary child actress was unveiled on May 16, 2002 alongside the adult Shirley Temple Black and 20th Century Fox owner Rupert Murdoch.  It is the only statue of the famous child actress that has ever been created.  “It’s ironic”, says the sculptor. “During the era where she held hands in films with African American tap dancer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, the studios had to cut those scenes out of the film when the movies were shown down south.  Now the hands of a Black man has created the only monument of Shirley Temple in existence”.

Last year, Nijel created a bronze bust of Patrice Lumumba, the first democratically elected Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo who was assassinated and dismembered in 1960. The sculpture was hailed by Lumumba’s children as being the most accurate sculpture of their father ever created.  For the master sculptor, it takes hundreds of hours to sculpt a figure and to get the features perfect. Upon seeing Nijel’s work, his youngest son Guy remarked, “You brought my father back to life”. 

The challenges of building the Mother of Humanity® in Africa are very different.  They are as many as the statue is tall.  To start with Nijel Binns is an American citizen, born in England with a mother from Jamaica and father from Sierra Leone. The reputation of America in countries around the world right now leaves a lot to be desired. Africans are right to view the Mother of Humanity® Project coming out of America with suspicion.   “The Mother of Humanity® monument for Africa is not an American project”, says the sculptor.  “It is a global one”.  Nijel is quick to point out that this is a people’s project that although the idea began in America, it is not limited to the United States or connected to any political or religious institutions. It involves a global acknowledgement and show of gratitude from all people to Africa for all that Africa has given to the world throughout the ages.  The artist believes that the Mother of Humanity® monument is also a strong statement for peace as it supports the quality of a mother’s loving-kindness.  “If we honor our mothers and women, if we practice a mother’s loving-kindness, it would be a sure road to peace on Earth”, he says.

Another point some critics see as a challenge to the project is that the artist has trademarked his creation.  Although this is not unusual (French sculptor Auguste Bartoldi took out a patent on the Statue of Liberty) most people seem to feel that an artist should not be compensated for their work or inventions.  The history of the United States is full off dozens of examples of African American inventors of everything from the pencil sharpener, the dust bin, potato chips, the door knob and many other examples who were never given credit for their creations.  It is this fact of exclusion and marginalization that prompted historian Carter G. Woodson in 1926 to create what has become “Black History Month”.  Today, better access to copyrights, trademarks and patents are known and proven ways to protect intellectual property.  Nonetheless, the creator of the Mother of Humanity® monument acknowledges that there have been a few attempts already to infringe upon his trademark even before the statue in Africa is built.

In 2016, Nijel Binns and a newly created 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation called The Mother of Humanity® Monument Foundation, Inc., accepted an invitation by the Head of State, President Paul Biya, to visit the Central African nation of Cameroon where land is being offered to build the monument.  The once restive nation known to many in Africa as “Africa in miniature” because of the diversity of its social and geological features, has in recent years, experienced turmoil between the English and French speaking members of the population.  The English speaking minority wants to break away from Cameroon to create a separate state they call Ambazonia.  Some critics question whether or not Cameroon is a good location for the monument after all.  The artist is quick to point out that universally, there is a good and bad, an up and down, dualities to every aspect of existence. Racism and the evils of the legacy of slavery in America or colonialism around the world has not prevented the people from working towards restoring a balance.  “We know that it is possible and necessary to restore balance and peace in all aspects of life on Earth, from interpersonal relationships to our relationship with the planet itself”, says the artist.  “But at the same time, we must always know that there are those who thrive on chaos and profit from war and destruction”, he adds.

With themes such as a mother’s loving-kindness and healing, the Mother of Humanity® monument will be built in a park called MotherLandTM.  Quite unlike most theme parks around the world that offer entertainment and escapism, Nijel designed MotherLandTM to be built around the attributes of the Mother of Humanity® monument and will support the themes such as motherhood, kindness and peace.  However, as it is envisioned to be a world class tourist destination in Africa that will attract people from all around the world, MotherLandTM will also have to provide activities for parents as well as their families.  So in addition to botanical gardens where visitors can learn about the biodiversity of our planet, the kids can also enjoy activities such as a skate park, zip lining and balloon rides.  The MotherLandTM themed park will be a unique back to Eden environment (no cell phones allowed because of EMF radiation) full of good food, the discovery of natural wonders and education.  To enable those citizens in Cameroon or other African nations who want to visit MotherLandTM to see the Mother of Humanity® monument, plans are being developed to grant free entry to school children and once a week, for a limited time, free entry to the local population.

With the monument’s motto of “One Family, One FutureTM”, the artist believes that this world needs the Mother of Humanity® today more than ever before. The monument will deliver a message of love, kindness, peace and harmony that should define relations between a mother’s children. It will offer a healing platform that can bring the human family closer together, restore hope and faith, and secure the future of humanity and planet Earth. He concludes by saying, “The Mother of Humanity® Monument does not just make a difference, it makes the greatest difference!”