Léopold Sédar Senghor
(9 October 1906 – 20 December 2001)
Léopold Sédar Senghor was born in Joal, Afrique Occidentale Française (French West Africa now Republic of Senegal), to a Serer (third largest ethnic group in Senegal) Father and Roman Catholic mother. In 1928 Senghor traveled to Paris to continue his studies on a partial scholarship. He became the first black African to become an agrégé, the top qualification for a teacher in the French education system, and became a professor of African languages and civilization at the École Nationale de la France d'Outre-Mer. When Senegal achieved independence in 1960, Senghor was elected its first president. He retired from the presidency on 31 December 1960.Senghor retired to France, became the first black African member of the French Academy in 1984, and published his memoir, ('That Which I Believe: Negritude, Frenchness, and Universal Civilization') in 1988. He died at Verson, France, on 20 December 2001. Philosophy: Leopold Sedar Senghor believes that every African shares certain distinctive and innate characteristics, values and aesthetics. Negritude is the active rooting of an Black identity in this inescapable and natural African essence. (The major premise of Negritude is therefore that one’s biological make-up (race) defines one’s outer (skin color) as well as inner (spirit/essence) traits. It is a concept which holds that there is a ‘shared culture and subjectivity and spiritual essence’ among members of the same racial group. Instead of rejecting the (colonialist) theory that race defines one’s being; Negritude rejects the assumption that the African is inherently inferior to the “white man”. To Senghor, this makes Negritude a weapon against colonialism and an ‘instrument of liberation’.To Senghor, the African essence is externalized in a distinctive culture and philosophy. This claim is supported by Senghor’s assertion that Negritude – the rooting of identity in one’s natural essence – is ‘diametrically...
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