|Name:||Leopold Sedar Senghor|
|Birth Day:||October 9, 1906|
|Death Date:||Dec 20, 2001 (age 95)|
As per our current Database, Leopold Sedar Senghor died on Dec 20, 2001 (age 95).
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He studied at the Sorbonne and the University of Paris and later served as a private in the French Army.
Léopold Sédar Senghor was born on 9 October 1906 in the city of Joal, some one hundred ten kilometres south of Dakar, capital of Senegal. Senghor's father, Basile Diogoye Senghor (pronounced: Basile Jogoy Senghor), was a businessman and merchant belonging to the bourgeois Serer people. Basile Senghor was said to be a wealthy person and owned thousands of cattle and vast lands, some of which were given to him by his cousin the king of Sine. Gnilane Ndiémé Bakhoum (1861–1948), Senghor's mother, the third wife of his father, a Muslim with Fula origin who belonged to the Tabor tribe, was born near Djilas to a Christian family. She gave birth to six children, including two sons. His birth certificate states he was born on October 9, 1906 however there is a discrepancy with his certificate of baptism which states occurred on 9 August 1906. His Serer middle name Sédar comes from the Serer language, meaning "one that shall not be humiliated" or "the one you cannot humiliate". His surname Senghor is a combination of the Serer words Sène (a Serer surname and the name of the Supreme Deity in Serer religion called Rog Sene) and gor or ghor, the etymology of which is kor in Serer language meaning male or man. Tukura Badiar Senghor, the prince of Sine and a figure from whom Léopold Sédar Senghor has been reported to trace descent, was a c. 13th-century Serer noble.
At the age of eight Senghor began his studies in Senegal in the Ngasobil boarding school of the Fathers of the Holy Spirit. In 1922 he entered a seminary in Dakar. After being told the religious life was not for him, he attended a secular institution. By then, he was already passionate about French literature. He won distinctions in French, Latin, Greek and Algebra. With his Baccalaureate completed, he was awarded a scholarship to continue his studies in France.
In 1928 Senghor sailed from Senegal for France, beginning, in his words, "sixteen years of wandering." Starting his post-secondary studies at the Sorbonne, he quit and went on to the Lycée Louis-le-Grand to finish his prep course for entrance to the École Normale Supérieure, a grande école. Paul Cary, Henri Queffélec, Robert Verdier and Georges Pompidou were also studying at this elite institution. After failing the entrance exam, Senghor prepared for his grammar Agrégation. He was granted his agrégation in 1935 after a failed first attempt.
In 1939, Senghor was enrolled as a French army enlisted man (2 Classe) with the rank of private within the 59th Colonial Infantry division in spite of his higher education and of his 1932 acquisition of the French Citizenship. A year later in 1940, during the German invasion of France, he was taken prisoner by the Germans in la Charité-sur-Loire. He was interned in different camps, and finally at Front Stalag 230, in Poitiers. Front Stalag 230 was reserved for colonial troops captured during the war. German soldiers wanted to execute him and the others the same day they were captured, but they escaped this fate by yelling Vive la France, vive l'Afrique noire! ("Long live France, long live Black Africa!") A French officer told the soldiers that executing the African prisoners would dishonour the Aryan race and the German Army. In total, Senghor spent two years in different prison camps, where he spent most of his time writing poems. In 1942 he was released for medical reasons.
Senghor's first marriage was to Ginette Éboué (1 March 1923 – 1992), daughter of Félix Éboué. They married on 9 September 1946 and divorced in 1955. They had two sons, Francis in 1947 and Guy in 1948. His second wife, Colette Hubert [fr] (20 November 1925 – 18 November 2019), who was from France, became Senegal's first First Lady upon independence in 1960. Senghor had three sons between his two marriages.
In 1947, Senghor left the African Division of the French Section of the Workers International (SFIO), which had given enormous financial support to the social movement. With Mamadou Dia, he founded the Bloc démocratique sénégalais (1948). They won the legislative elections of 1951, and Guèye lost his seat.
Re-elected deputy in 1951 as an independent overseas member, Senghor was appointed state secretary to the Council's president in Edgar Faure's government from 1 March 1955 to 1 February 1956. He became mayor of the city of Thiès, Senegal in November 1956 and then advisory minister in the Michel Debré's government from 23 July 1959 to 19 May 1961. He was also a member of the commission responsible for drafting the Fifth Republic's constitution, general councillor for Senegal, member of the Grand Conseil de l'Afrique Occidentale Francaise and member for the parliamentary assembly of the European Council.
Once the war was over, Senghor was selected as Dean of the Linguistics Department with the École nationale de la France d'Outre-Mer, a position he would hold until Senegal's independence in 1960. While travelling on a research trip for his poetry, he met the local socialist leader, Lamine Guèye, who suggested that Senghor run for election as a member of the Assemblée nationale française. Senghor accepted and became député for the riding of Sénégal-Mauritanie, when colonies were granted the right to be represented by elected individuals. They took different positions when the train conductors on the line Dakar-Niger went on strike. Guèye voted against the strike, arguing the movement would paralyse the colony, while Senghor supported the workers, which gained him great support among Senegalese.
Since federalism was not favoured by the African countries, he decided to form, along with Modibo Keita, the Mali Federation with former French Sudan (present-day Mali). Senghor was president of the Federal Assembly until its failure in 1960.
Afterwards, Senghor became the first President of the Republic of Senegal, elected on 5 September 1960. He is the author of the Senegalese national anthem. The prime minister, Mamadou Dia, was in charge of executing Senegal's long-term development plan, while Senghor was in charge of foreign relations. The two men quickly disagreed. In December 1962, Mamadou Dia was arrested under suspicion of fomenting a coup d'état. He was held in prison for 12 years. Following this, Senghor created a presidential regime.
In 1964 Senghor published the first volume of a series of five, titled Liberté. The book contains a variety of speeches, essays and prefaces.
On 22 March 1967, Senghor survived an assassination attempt. The suspect, Moustapha Lô, pointed his pistol towards the President after he had participated in the sermon of Tabaski, but the gun did not fire. Lô was sentenced to death for treason and executed on 15 June 1967, even though it remained unclear if he had actually wanted to kill Senghor.
Senghor received the Commemorative Medal of the 2500th Anniversary of the founding of the Persian Empire on 14 October 1971.
On 13 November 1978, he was created a Knight of the Collar of the Order of Isabella the Catholic of Spain. Members of the order at the rank of knight and above enjoy personal nobility and have the privilege of adding a golden heraldic mantle to their coats of arms. Those at the rank of the Collar also receive the official style "His or Her Most Excellent Lord".
His poetry was widely acclaimed, and in 1978 he was awarded the Prix mondial Cino Del Duca. His poem "A l'appel de la race de Saba", published in 1936, was inspired by the entry of Italian troops in Addis Ababa. In 1948, Senghor compiled and edited a volume of Francophone poetry called Anthologie de la nouvelle poésie nègre et malgache for which Jean-Paul Sartre wrote an introduction, entitled "Orphée Noir" (Black Orpheus).
Senghor's tenure as president was characterised by the development of African socialism, which was created as an indigenous alternative to Marxism, drawing heavily from the négritude philosophy. In developing this, he was assisted by Ousmane Tanor Dieng. On 31 December 1980, he retired in favour of his prime minister, Abdou Diouf.
In 1982, he was one of the founders of the Association France and developing countries whose objectives were to bring attention to the problems of developing countries, in the wake of the changes affecting the latter.
He was elected a member of the Académie française on 2 June 1983, at the 16th seat where he succeeded Antoine de Lévis Mirepoix. He was the first African to sit at the Académie. The entrance ceremony in his honour took place on 29 March 1984, in presence of French President François Mitterrand. This was considered a further step towards greater openness in the Académie, after the previous election of a woman, Marguerite Yourcenar.
In 1983 he was awarded the Dr. Leopold Lucas Prize by the University of Tübingen."
The French Language International University in Alexandria was officially open in 1990 and was named after him.
In 1993, the last and fifth book of the Liberté series was published: Liberté 5: le dialogue des cultures.
In 1994 he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the African Studies Association; however, there was controversy about whether he met the standard of contributing "a lifetime record of outstanding scholarship in African studies and service to the Africanist community." Michael Mbabuike, president of the New York African Studies Association (NYASA), said that the award also honours those who have worked "to make the world a better place for mankind."
The airport of Dakar was renamed Aéroport International Léopold Sédar Senghor in 1996, on his 90th birthday.
Senghor spent the last years of his life with his wife in Verson, near the city of Caen in Normandy, where he died on 20 December 2001. His funeral was held on 29 December 2001 in Dakar. Officials attending the ceremony included Raymond Forni, president of the Assemblée nationale and Charles Josselin, state secretary for the minister of foreign affairs, in charge of the Francophonie. Jacques Chirac (who said, upon hearing of Senghor's death: "Poetry has lost one of its masters, Senegal a statesman, Africa a visionary and France a friend") and Lionel Jospin, respectively president of the French Republic and the prime minister, did not attend. Their failure to attend Senghor's funeral made waves as it was deemed a lack of acknowledgement for what the politician had been in his life. The analogy was made with the Senegalese Tirailleurs who, after having contributed to the liberation of France, had to wait more than forty years to receive an equal pension (in terms of buying power) to their French counterparts. The scholar Érik Orsenna wrote in the newspaper Le Monde an editorial entitled "J'ai honte" (I am ashamed).
The Passerelle Solférino in Paris was renamed after him in 2006, on the centenary of his birth.
Currently, Leopold Sedar Senghor is 116 years, 3 months and 22 days old. Leopold Sedar Senghor will celebrate 117th birthday on a Monday 9th of October 2023.
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