Leopold Senghor

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Leopold Senghor

Leopold_Senghor’s Biography

Senghor arrived in France in 1928, thus initiating what he would call his “sixteen wandering years.” He began his studies at the Sorbonne, but disappointed he entered, thanks to the help of the Senegalese deputy Blaise Diagne, at the Lycee Louis-le-Grand, where he prepared the entry contest at the École normale supérieure. There he frequented the company of Paul Guth, Henri Queffélec, Robert Verdier and Georges Pompidou. It was also there that he first met Aimé Césaire.

During his student days he created, together with the martiniqués Aimé Césaire and the Guyana Léon Gontran Damas, the magazine L’Etudiant noir, in 1934. In those pages he expressed for the first time his concept of blackness, a notion introduced by Aimé Césaire , in a text entitled “Négrerie”. He was the first “black” teacher to teach French in France.

While representing Senegal in the French National Assembly, along with Lamine Guèye (also a socialist, but who voted against the rail strike of the Dakar-Niger line that paralyzed the colony), he supported it, and thus achieved a huge popularity. Emboldened with his success, the following year he left the African section of the French SFIO, which had largely supported the social movement to which he belonged, and founded the Bloc Démocratique Sénégalais, which he won in the 1951 elections.

He was one of the promoters of the Federation of Mali together with Modibo Keïta and became president of the Federal Assembly. After the dismemberment of the Federation of Mali and the independence of Senegal in August 1960, he became the first president of the Republic of Senegal, after the elections of September 5, 1960.

He supported the creation of La Francophonie and was vice-president of the High Council of La Francophonie.

His poetry, essentially symbolist, founded on the song of the enchantment word, is built on the hope of creating a “civilization of the universal” that unites the traditions over their differences. Senghor felt that the symbolic language of poetry could be the basis of this project. He was elected to the French Academy on June 2, 1983.

In 1978 he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Salamanca.

He spent the last years of his existence with his wife, in Verson, Normandy.

More Facts about Leopold Senghor

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