Shakira 2023 new statue Barranquilla
Latin Times/AFP

Shakira spent her Christmas Eve in a special way by visiting families at the Ronald McDonald House in Miami. Then she was celebrated in her hometown, Barranquilla, in a very special way.

On the banks of the Río Magdalena, a new landmark towers majestically as of this week. It's a grand sculpture of Shakira, the city's most globally renowned artist, standing 6.5 meters tall (about 20 feet), a blend of bronze and aluminum shimmering in the sun.

"This is too much for my little heart," she wrote on Instagram with photos of the sculpture, reaching her 90 million followers.

Shakira spreads joy

The holiday season was a mix of emotions for Shakira. For the first time, her children, Milan and Sasha, spent Christmas with their father, Gerard Piqué, away from her.

However, she decided to fill her calendar with family-related activities. Shakira spent several hours on Christmas Eve visiting with the families at the Ronald McDonald House in Miami.

"Your presence brought immense joy to our families. Thank you for embodying the spirit of giving and making this Christmas Eve one filled with love and cherished moments!", said the text published by the Ronald McDonald Charities.

Fast forward to Barranquilla

Two days later, Shakira was honored at home with a 20-foot statue, sculpted by local artist Yino Márquez with the support of students and graduates from the District School of Arts. The monument is not just a tribute to Shakira's musical talents but also to her humanitarian efforts.

It stands in the La Paz neighborhood, and depicts the singer in an iconic pose, with palms joined above her head and her famous hip-shaking step, popularized globally by her song "Hips Don't Lie."

The design of the statue is striking: Shakira's flowing skirt, made of aluminum, symbolizes the waves of the sea and the river, connecting her to Barranquilla's geographical identity. Márquez, in an interview, explained, "The dress transforming into waves, made of aluminum, adds strength to the symbolism I want to convey. Shakira is river and sea, just like Barranquilla."

Although Shakira didn't make it to the unveiling, her parents William Mebarak and Nidia Ripoll, where there on her behalf.

Beneath the statue, a plaque bears a poetic inscription that says "Born on January 2, 1977, from Barranquilla to the world: A heart that composes, hips that don't lie, unparalleled talent, a voice that moves masses, and bare feet marching for the good of children and humanity."

This unveiling comes at a poignant time for Shakira, who recently faced legal challenges in Spain, offering a brighter end to her year. The artist expressed her deep honor and emotion for this recognition in a message delivered during the inauguration, saying, "I am moved for my parents and my children, and for this gesture of love and brotherhood."

Three tributes

The new statue is the third major public tribute to Shakira. Barranquilla had already erected a 5-meter-tall steel sculpture, donated by German artist and councilman Dieter Patt, in 2006. In Lebanon, the Tannurin reserve named a small plaza "Shakira Moubarak" in her honor in 2018, honoring her Lebanese roots.

As the sun sets over the Magdalena River, the statue of Shakira stands tall, a reminder of the indelible mark she has left on her hometown, her country, and the world. It's a story of a girl from Barranquilla who danced her way into the hearts of millions, now immortalized in bronze and aluminum, a beacon of hope and a celebration of a remarkable journey that began in the very streets where her statue now proudly stands.

Shakira's home city of Barranquilla unveiled a 6.5-meter (21.3-foot) hip-swaying statue in her honor. AFP

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