Senghor Leopold 1906 - 2001 (95)

Now, try to put on a black skin for five minutes. I know you find this hard to do, but there is no other way to get the living feel of our situation.


Black Woman

Léopold Sédar Senghor (1906-2001) was a Senegalese poet and politician, the first president of the Republic of Senegal since the country was liberated by the French in 1960 until 1980. Sengor was born on October 9, 1906, his father was a businessman. When he finished his basic education in his home country, he continued his studies with a scholarship in France. During his time in France, he read African-American poets of the Harlem renaissance and French poets. In 1932 he became a French citizen, served in the infantry and in 1935 obtained a degree in grammar. Senghor then worked in Paris as a teacher, and at the outbreak of World War II he joined the French army. Captured by the Germans, he spent 18 months as a prisoner of war. There he learned German and wrote poetry which was later published.

He returned to his homeland and became active in the political field, while at the same time he started writing, with great success. On September 5, 1960, Sangor was elected the first president of independent Senegal and became the author of its national anthem. Although a socialist, Sengor avoided the Marxist and anti-Western ideology that had become popular in post-colonial Africa and favored maintaining close ties with France and the Western world. His tenure was marked by the development of African socialism and good relations with Europe, at the same time he had a big success as a poet, winning numerous awards.

In December 1962, a close associate of his was arrested on suspicion of plotting a coup d'état, after which Sengor established a centralized presidential regime. On March 22, 1967, he escaped a murder attempt. Sengor resigned on the last day of 1980 and was succeeded by Abdou Diouf, whose presidency introduced multi-party system in the country.

Sengor was twice married and had three sons. He spent the last years of his life with his second wife in a small town in Normandy, away from politics and publicity, where he died on December 20, 2001.