Leopold Sedar Senghor

Senghor, Léopold Sédar

Léopold Sédar Senghor (lāôpôld´ sādär´ säNgôr´), 1906–2001, African statesman and poet; president (1960–80) of the Republic of Senegal, b. Joal. The son of a prosperous landowner, Senghor was extraordinarily gifted in literature and won a scholarship to study at the Sorbonne in Paris (grad. 1935). There he met fellow writers such as Aimé Césaire and Léon Damas, with whom he formulated the concept of négritude, which asserted the importance of their African heritage (see also African literature). He became a French teacher, served in an all-African unit of the French army in World War II, and after the war represented Senegal (1945–58) in the French legislature. He then held a series of offices in Senegal and became one of the founders of the African Regroupement party. Senghor was president of the legislative assembly in the Mali Federation (1959) and, when Senegal withdrew from the federation (1960), he became president of the newly formed Republic of Senegal.

Senghor continued to work for African unity, and, in 1974, Senegal joined six other nations in the West African Economic Community. He was reelected president in 1963, 1968, and 1973, remaining in office until his retirement in 1980. He lived in Normandy for most of the rest of his life. A distinguished intellectual and champion of African culture, he wrote numerous volumes of poetry and essays in French, including Chants d'Ombre (1945), written while he was interned in a Nazi prison camp; Hosties noires (1948); Chants pour Naëtt (1949); and Éthiopiques (1956). At the head of his many poems, Senghor indicates the musical instruments that should accompany them, illustrating his belief that the poems should become songs to be complete. Among his works in English translation are On African Socialism (1964) and Selected Poems (1964). In 1984 he became the first black member of the French Academy.

See biographies by I. L. Markovitz (1969), J. L. Hymans (1972), J. S. Spleth (1985), and J. G. Vaillant (1990); studies by M. B. Melady (1971), S. W. Bâ (1973), S. O. Mezu (1973), J. S. Spleth, ed. (1993), and W. Kluback (1997).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Leopold Sedar Senghor: Selected full-text books and articles

The African Philosophy Reader: A Text with Readings By P. H. Coetzee; A. P. J. Roux Routledge, 2003 (2nd edition)
Librarian’s tip: "Senghor and the Theory of Negritude" begins on p. 45
Philosophy for Africa By Augustine Shutte Marquette University Press, 1995
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Three "A Pioneer: Leopold Senghor"
Seven African Writers By Gerald Moore Oxford University Press, 1962
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 1 "Leopold Sedar Senghor: Assimilation or Negritude?"
African Literature, African Critics: The Forming of Critical Standards, 1947-1966 By Rand Bishop Greenwood Press, 1988
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "Negritude and the Critics"
'Poetry Has Lost One of Its Masters'. (Senegal) By Michaud, Paul; Lokongo, Antoine New African, February 2002
Double Impact: France and Africa in the Age of Imperialism By G. Wesley Johnson Greenwood Press, 1985
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "African Deputies in Paris: The Political Role of Leopold Senghor in the Fourth Republic"
Community, Identity and the State: Comparing Africa, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East By Moshe Gammer Routledge, 2004
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 10 "Communities of Ideas: Blyden, Senghor, and the Evolution of the Discourse between Pan-Africanism and Islam"
The Black Surrealists By Jean-Claude Michel Peter Lang, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "Leopold Sedar Senghor and Surrealism"
Postcolonial African Writers: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook By Pushpa Naidu Parekh; Siga Fatima Jagne Greenwood Press, 1998
Librarian’s tip: "Leopold Sedar Senghor (1906-)" begins on p. 425
Leopold Sedar Senghor and Nicolas Guillen: Two Poets of Hybridization By Badiane, Mamadou Journal of Caribbean Literatures, Vol. 6, No. 2, Fall 2009
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