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5 White Elephants Projects That Deserve To Be National Monuments of Shame

Updated on July 23, 2018
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Am a storyteller, thinker and researcher which i infuse in my writings to communicate better to my readers,

Emperor Jean Bedel Bokassa 1 of Central Africa Empire
Emperor Jean Bedel Bokassa 1 of Central Africa Empire

When Jean Bedel Bokassa of Central African Republic overthrew his Cousin in 1966, 10 years later he renamed the Country to Central African Empire and declared himself as Emperor Bokassa 1. To mark his coronation as Emperor he raided state coffers and reportedly spent 20 million USD which was astronomical considering C.A.R was among the poorest nation on earth. Obsessed with Napoleon’s coronation when he converted the French Revolutionary Republic to the First French Empire, the self-proclaimed Emperor lavishly spent on a giant eagle-shaped solid- gold throne, a crown consisting of 8,000 diamonds, rubies & emerald and 3,000 guards dressed in expensive uniforms who were trained in France on horse riding skills, plus a host of other extravagances. But he was utterly disappointed after out the projected 2,500 invited guests expected at the event only 600 showed up and making the country to lose huge amounts of resources in servicing the selfish needs of an egoistic, boisterous leader with nil returns to the country.

White Elephants

Jean Bedel Bokassa exemplifies a situation where those entrusted with leadership often abuse that trust by engaging in over-ambitious, super-expensive, poorly conceived projects or activities that ultimately leaves a country with a staggering financial loss, sinking it into further crisis and no hope in recovering its investments. By creating a list of famous white elephants (something that has cost a lot of money but has no useful purpose) I hope the current leadership worldwide takes note and immediately convert such projects into National Monuments of Shame aiming at dishonoring & ridiculing those responsible.

Almost every country on earth has its own share of such useless projects but some deserve to be declared as protected world heritage sites by UNESCO in serving as a reminder to future generations on the consequence of inept, out of touch and corrupt leadership. After doing a little research I’ve identified 5 cases that deserve to be immediately turned into national monuments of shame in their respective country and remind current or future leadership against such undertakings.

Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro

Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast
Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast

Starting off the list is the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro in Ivory Coast which was built during the reign of 1st president of Ivory Coast, Felix Houphouet-Boigny and gobbled an estimated 300 million USD. Considered the largest church worldwide, it was built on his home village with a capacity of 7,000 seating and 11,000 standing. It occupies 88 acres, modeled to resemble the St. Peter Basilica in Vatican but only bigger than it and took 4 years to complete from 1985-1989.

It comprises of a private papal villa which has only been used once by Pope John Paul II when he agreed to consecrate the church in return for the despot not to out-do the one in Vatican. The self-centered leader went further to engrave his image on a glass stain depicting himself as the 13th disciple beside Jesus in the last supper and the sad part it’s not recognized as a cathedral. Out of the estimated 120,000 inhabitants of Yamoussoukro only 10% are Catholics making it always empty since its inception with the exception of when it hosted 7,000 people during his funeral. With such astronomical waste on a venture that yielded zero returns on the country but pampering the pride of a despot should immediately be converted into a national monument of shame.

Ryugyong Hotel

Ryugyong Hotel, North Korea
Ryugyong Hotel, North Korea

Another entrant on the list is Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea with a 3,000 rooms capacity, begun its construction in 1987 consuming almost 2% of their G.D.P translating into 750 million USD in a period of 5 years and construction stopped after the fall of its benefactor, U.S.S.R in 1992. It’s the most over- ambitious, ill-conceived project I’ve come across, considering North Korea and its extreme isolationist policy which makes hard for it in attracting tourist who will always ensure maximum occupation of the hotel. Even though an Egyptian telecommunication firm undertook the task of completing it recently there’s been no word from the Government on when it will be open and reports surfacing that the hotel is actually empty inside. To redeem themselves the despotic leadership of North Korea should immediately turn the hotel into an international monument of shame and deserved contender for the whitest of white elephant projects.

Vladivostok Bridge

Vladivostok Bridge, Russia
Vladivostok Bridge, Russia

In 2012, Vladivostok, situated in the Russian Federation hosted the Asia Pacific Economic Conference, 5 years earlier Vladimir Putin, the Russian leader decided to go all out and ordered the construction of the World’s longest cable bridge with main purpose of connecting the mainland Vladivostok to the small island of Russky where the event was to take place. The proud, boisterous Russian president wanted to out-do the famous Golden Gate Bridge in San- Francisco, U.S.A hence raided the state coffers and reportedly spent a staggering 1 billion USD for its construction. The bridge with a capacity to handle 50,000 cars daily, proved its worth during the 2 day conference but afterwards it became largely unused as the small island of Russky with an estimated population at 5,000 ensured it operated below capacity. Unlike other countries with similar bridges built it for the main aim of connecting large population centers and ease movement between areas, Russia’s bridge was anchored on hosting a 2 day event. Despite being the longest bridge worldwide it serves no meaningful purpose to the country as the billion dollars spent going down the drain and earning its place on our list.

African Renaissance Monument

African Renaissance Monument, Ivory Coast
African Renaissance Monument, Ivory Coast

Depicting a muscular man pointing to the sea while holding a child with a woman behind him, African Renaissance Monument at 160 feet in Senegal is higher than the Statue of Liberty, New York. Built during the reign of ex-president Abdoulaye Wade, at a cost of 27 million USD of state funds is perhaps a demonstration of the high affinity some leaders have for white elephant projects. The statue consumes 10,000 USD- 20,000 USD per month in maintaining it and as the original generator of the idea; Wade demanded a 35% share of the revenues to be realized. He invited 19 African leaders during its unveiling in Dakar and procured the services of North Korean workers in building it thereby earning its place among the list of useless projects designated for National Monuments of Shame.

Palace of Parliament

Palace of Parliament, Romania
Palace of Parliament, Romania

The Palace of Parliament is Europe’s largest administrative building (84 meters in height, 365,000 sq. ft.) with construction taking 13 years to complete from 1984-1997 with costs reaching 1.75 billion USD by 1989 and displacing around 40,000 people. A pet project of Nicolae Ceausescu, the former dictator of Romania, it involved around 10,000-20,000 workers who were mainly from its armed forces with reports suggesting around 3,000 deaths during its construction and if that’s not enough out of the 1,100 rooms only 400 rooms are ready for occupation. By 2006 the building costs had reached 3 billion Euros and wraps up the list as a deserving entrant.

I hope the above mentioned projects or activities be made National Monuments of Shame by their respective Governments and inspire citizens worldwide in identifying various useless projects whose only purpose is serving the needs of their selfish creator and wasting valuable resources for more immediate concerns. Wherever you’re let’s hope this action can put an end to such ventures in the future by such selfish leaders.


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