Village celebrates Senegal's president-poet

20th March 2006, Comments 0 comments

VERSON, France, March 20, 2006 (AFP) - A small Normandy village, better known in Senegal than in France, is preparing months of celebrations to mark the centenary of the birth of the west African state's late president-poet.

VERSON, France, March 20, 2006 (AFP) - A small Normandy village, better known in Senegal than in France, is preparing months of celebrations to mark the centenary of the birth of the west African state's late president-poet.

"Schools, associations, everybody is organising projects about Senegal," said Michel Marie, mayor of the small northern village of Verson, where the widow of Leopold Sedar Senghor still lives.

*sidebar1*A statue of Senghor, who became the first president of Senegal when the country gained independence from France in 1960, is to be inaugurated in October in the village where he spent his retirement until his death in 2001 at the age of 95.

Senghor, who was born in Senegal on October 9, 1906, argued for the rebirth of a strong black identity and had a huge influence on culture and politics in west Africa. His first collection of poems, published in 1945, explored themes of exile and nostalgia.

He helped develop the idea of Negritude — a movement to restore the identity of Africans by rejecting European values and affirming the culture of the African diaspora — and sought to reverse centuries of colonial stigmatisation of black people.

"His presence was an opportunity, an honour and a matter of great pride for us," said Marie.

Over the years Senghor donated many gifts to the village, including traditional sculptures and instruments, a collection that has been added to by his widow. Now aged 80, his widow has expressed her wish not to participate in any of the dozens of public events being held in her husband's memory.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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