Biography of Léopold Sédar Senghor (1906-2001)

Writer and Senegalese politician, President of Senegal from 1960 to 1980, born on October 9, 1906 in Joal and died on 20 December 2001 in Verson (France).

He received his early education at Catholic schools in Senegal, as the high school in Dakar, and later studied in Paris at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand and the Ecole Normale Supérieure, and University at the Sorbonne, where she met the poet from Martinique Aimé Césaire, who would influence his literary vocation. Professor of classical languages in high schools Descartes in Tours (1935-1944) and Marcelin Berthelot de Paris (1944-1948), in this capital participated with Césaire and l. ladies activities Africanists and published in the magazine L'Estudiant Noire. It was at this time when he developed the concept of Negritude, understood as a totalizing vision and exaltation of the culture and civilization of black African peoples, which evolved into the broader and more politicized concept of africanity, then served as a substrate to your particular social democratic ideology.

After collaborating on the movements of the French resistance during the second world war, in 1945 and 1946 he was elected Deputy in the French constituent assemblies and between 1946 and 1958 represented Senegal at the National Assembly. In 1955-1956, he served as Assistant to the President of the French Council, E. FaureSecretary of State. Meanwhile continued their cultural and academic interests, with the Foundation in Paris, in 1947, the magazine Présence Africaine and the Magisterium in the National School of the overseas France in 1948-1958.

In 1957 he was appointed to preside over the Senegalese Government and the following year founded the Senegalese progressive Union (UPS). Between 1959 and 1960 chaired the ephemeral Federation of Mali, formed from Senegal and the French Sudan, until their personal differences with the Malian leader Modibo Keita, more heeled to socialism, led to independence separately from two countries: Senegal 4 April 1960 and Mali on September 22, 1960.

Senghor presided over the country for two decades with moderation and an outside line pro-Western and pro-francesa. Thus, it invariably supported the interventions of Paris on the continent and held a tough dispute with Guinean President A. Sékou Touré, which put forward a radical and anti-imperialist socialism.

The unusual and prolonged stability of his regime was altered by a few tense moments, the most serious of which was the 1962 coup attempt carried out by the first Minister Mamadou Dia. In 1964 Senghor banned all political parties except for UPS (from 1977, Partido Socialista Senegalese - PSS-, integrated in the Socialist International), although in 1976 authorized the operation of the Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS) and the African independence party (PAI). Senghor was re-elected without opposition in 1963, 1968 and 1973, while in 1978 he faced a candidate of the PDS, which broke with 82% of the votes.

On January 1, 1981, Senghor resigned from the Presidency of the Republic and the 15th of the same month the general secretariat of the PSS, jobs took the then Prime Minister, A. Diouf. In the month of February was elected President of the new international African Socialist, based in Tunisia.

Senghor was also Vice President of the Socialist International, President of the International Confederation of societies of authors and composers, Member of the Academy of moral and political sciences of France, Member of the French Academy - in whose Commission of the dictionary of the language was admitted in 1986 - and a member of the American Academy of Arts and letters. He received numerous honorary academic degrees and awards Dag Hammarskjöld (1965), Haile Selassie's research African (1973), poetry (1974) of Apollinaire, Alfred de Vigny, Jawaharlal Nehru (1984) and Athinai (1985), among others, as well as the Grand Cross and the Legion of Honor, which granted the French State.

In Senghor, who wrote all his poetry in French, rivaled his literary stature with his status of statesman. In 1997 was, together with J. Nyerere of Tanzania and K. Kaunda of Zambia, the last survivor of the great leaders of the independence of black Africa in the 1960s. Four years later, he died in his retirement from the French Normandy.