This sculpture references river blindness, a parasitic worm infection that is spread by black flies and can damage the cornea leading to blindness.
The sculpture was erected in 2005 to commemorate the KIT’s contributions to international aid projects combatting river blindness on the African continent, particularly in countries to the southwest of the Sahara. After the Second World War, the KIT evolved into a centre of expertise for development aid and disease control in the Global South.
The hotel originally housed tropical doctors in training and other guests. Although the sculpture was well-intended, as is apparent from the accompanying text, the artwork has inspired critical responses. Some see it as reinforcing stubbornly persistent stereotypes of Africa as povertystricken and in need of care.