Fans unveiled a six-ton statue of Colombian pop diva Shakira on Wednesday, hours before a festive benefit concert organised by Barranquilla’s favourite daughter.
Proceeds from the show, part of Shakira’s worldwide Oral Fixation tour, will go to build an arts school for 1,800 children displaced by Colombia’s civil war.
Speaking with journalists, a visibly moved Shakira said arriving in her hometown after months on the road felt like returning to her mother’s embrace.
“Barranquilla is the big breast that fed and nurtured me as a human being, a woman and an artist,” said the 28-year old performer, who dominated the 2006 Latin Grammys this month with five awards.
“Returning is a chance to be with all the people from whom I learned and to pay homage to my roots.” Earlier, at the stadium where Wednesday’s concert will be held, a cornet-led band, carnival dance troupe and 3,000 fans joined Shakira’s father for the unveiling of a 4.5-metre iron statue of her likeness made and donated by a German fan.
“It’s a great day for the people of Barranquilla,” said sculptor Dieter Patt. “I’ve never seen the city as moved as or as happy as when the statue was unveiled.”
The concert is a fundraiser for Shakira’s decade-old foundation Pies Descalzos — Spanish for “bare feet” — which is building an English and Spanish bilingual school for the arts.
The school will be located in La Playa, a poor suburb of Barranquilla where 45 per cent of the residents are minors and only about half of them attend school.