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- This speech to the people of Senegal by Léopold Sédar Senghor (1906-2001) was delivered the day after his election as the first president of the newly independent republic. Senghor was born in what was then French West Africa. He was sent at a young age to a Catholic mission school, where he embraced French and European culture, but also felt the loss of his mother tongue and the pain of being torn from his African roots. He won a scholarship to pursue literary studies in France, beginning in 1928. In the 1930s and 1940s, he worked in France as a professor of Latin and French literature. With other intellectuals, he developed the concept of négritude, which emphasized black cultural identity and pride. After World War II, he represented Senegal in the French National Assembly and worked unsuccessfully to establish Eurafrican and African federations. In the speech, Senghor evoked a national idea transcending ethnic and racial divisions. He argued for African unity and referred to Senegal as having been shaped by both Europe and Africa. Invoking his old concept of négritude, he called for combining the best of European humanist and socialist traditions with traditional African virtues such as communalism. Renowned for his poetry, Senghor was elected to the Académie Française in 1984.
Ministry of Information of the Press and Broadcasting of the Republic of Senegal, Dakar, Senegal
Title in Original Language
Message de Monsieur Leopold Sedar Senghor, président de la république au peuple sénégalais
Type of Item