Léopold Sédar Senghor is a Senegalese poet, teacher, philosopher and politician. He was born in the small coastal town of Joal and raised as a Christian. He studied at a university in France. He came back to Senegal after fighting in World War Two. He believed in Pan-Africanism. This means that people in Africa have common interests and should be unified as one. We can find this idea in Senghor’s literature and politics.
LITERARY WORK AND NÉGRITUDE
Senghor formed the Négritude movement with authors Aimé Césaire and Léon Damas. Négritude is about celebrating African culture and values. It means that Africans share many attitudes and traditions. We are brought together by past suffering and become one shared black identity. Négritude shows that African culture is special and something to be proud of.
Senghor wrote many poems where he expresses his love for Africa. His poems defend the culture of Africa and its beauty. He uses his Christian beliefs to hope for peace and forgiveness in the world. He talks about his love and admiration for beautiful African women. When he talks about specific women he is actually talking about the whole of Africa. He writes about the beauty and greatness of African heritage. Senghor’s poems use Négritude to show that African culture is rich and precious.
SENGHOR AND POLITICS
Senghor started a political party in 1948 to protect the interests of Africa. He wanted to improve the lives of the Senegalese people. He helped Senegal to gain its independence from France. He became the first democratically elected president of Senegal in 1961. As president he worked to promote African unity. He tried to preserve the French West African Federation (AOF). The AOF was a political union of African countries. Senghor wanted Senegal to be closer to its African neighbours. Even though Senegal didn’t have many resources he spent money on a festival of African arts. He wanted Africans to have a stronger cultural identity.
A FAMOUS AFRICAN INTELLECTUAL
Why do we still remember Léopold Senghor today? Because he is an important thinker in African culture. He was proud of Africa and its heritage. He used his pride to make a difference in Senegal. He promoted the importance of African cultural identity. That’s why he is and will be remembered throughout history.