Léopold Sédar Senghor

Joal, Senegal (1906-2001)  Both a poet and a statesmanhis family were “Sérère” and held property; they were Catholics. In 1914 he began studying at N’Gazobil boarding school run by “les Pères du Saint Esprit” (the Holy Spirit Fathers). In 1923 he is a pupil at College Liberman (secondary school) in Dakar, passes his “baccalauréat” in 1928, is granted a half scholarship from the French government. Within the same year he boards a ship to France and attends Lycée Louis le Grand in Paris. In 1931, still at lycée Louis le Grand, he enters “Khagne” (ie: literature class preparing entrance to the Ecole Normale Supérieure, the best school for the training of literature teachers in France ) .

There, he will meet Georges Pompidou (who was the French president from 1969 to his death in 1974), Paul Guth, Robert Verdier, Henri Queffelec.

In 1933, Léopold Sédar Senghor was to be the first African “Agrégé” (ie : he passed the “Agrégation”, the highest competitive examination for teachers in France). Within the same year he solicits and obtains the French nationality which would have been his “ex officio” had he been born in DakarGoreeSaint-Louis or Rufisque. In 1934 he founds the journal “L’Etudiant Noir” (“The Black Student”) along with Aimé Cesaire (writer from Martinique) and Léon Damas.
In this journal he will publish the first of his reflections on Negritude :

In 1937 he is appointed teacher of literature and grammar at Lycée Descartes in Tours (in the Loire valley ), then at Lycée Marcelin Berthelot in Saint-Maur-des-Fossés (suburb east of Paris ).
In 1939 he is mobilized with the 23rd then 3rd Colonial Infantry Regiment .
On June 20th he is made prisoner by the German army at La Charité sur Loire (less than 200 kms south of Paris).
In 1941 he joins the “Résistance” with the University National Front. Discharged in 1942, he resumes his post at Lycée M. Berthelot and in 1944 he is appointed part-time lecturer at the National School of Overseas French Territories.
After the second world war he joins the S.F.I.O. (socialist party) and becomes deputy for Senegal.
In 1955 he is Secretary of State in Edgar Faure’s cabinet.
In January 1960 Senegal and the Sudan Republic form the Federation of Mali. Senegal obtains Independence in the course of the same year and in August, Léopold Sédar Senghor is voted in as the President of the Republic of Senegal and will hold office until December 31st, 1980 when he resigns of his own will in favour of Abdou Diouf, whom he had chosen as his successor and prepared to hold office.