Born October 9, 1906, Leopold Sedar Senghor, who was an academic before becoming Senegal’s first president in 1961, is credited as one of Africa’s biggest intellectuals. He was also a poet who captured the daily and rare occurrence of life.
At a young age, Senghor had a dream to become a teacher-priest. He, however, abandoned the idea of priesthood when he turned 20, leaving the seminary for the Lycee secondary school in Dakar.
Senghor excelled in his studies, earning a partial scholarship to Lycée Louis-le-Grand and at the Sorbonne in 1928. In 1935, he became the first African agrégé, the highest rank of a qualified teacher in the French school system. With this credential, he was able to teach at both secondary and university levels.
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While in Paris, Senghor, together with Aimé Césaire and Léon Damas, initiated Négritude, a cultural and literary movement that aimed at asserting the distinctive African characteristics, values, and aesthetics.
The three were dissatisfied by their experience (and that of many others) as black people in France. Senghor used the movement to show the universality of the black experience, advocating for the promotion and expression of African cultures and values.
To celebrate Senghor’s legacy, Face2Face Africa shares with you 10 of his greatest quotes and poems: