L. S. Senghor, "Liberté 1: Négritude et humanisme"


Book, 20,5 x 14 x 2,5 cm.

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp.

This book is the first volume of the series of books titled Liberté (Freedom). As it states in the introduction, the title expresses the general theme of the texts as the “conquest of freedom as affirmation and illustration of the collective personality of black peoples: of Négritude”. Bringing together essays, speeches from conferences and articles dating from 1937 to 1964 – from Léopold Senghor’s first major public lecture in Dakar to the years of his rise to political eminence – the volume bears witness to the development of the Négritude philosophy. Similar to Senghor’s poetry, his short theoretical pieces are rather lyrical than narrative, and refer to the key concepts of Négritude such as surrealism, symbolism, sensitivity versus rationality, rhythm, “integral humanism”, and black African civilisation. Senghor argues for a special role for black African culture to play in the building of universal civilisation. This did not stop him from seeing the features of Négritude in the artworks of Pierre Soulages and Emile Lahner, and writings of diverse Western writers such as Victor Hugo, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Albert Camus to name a few. However, his idea of cultural métissage, or hybridisation has often become a target for criticism. Senghor’s speech Les Belges au Congo (Belgians in Congo), which is included in the volume, is particularly controversial. His admiration of Belgium as a crossroads of civilisations, where the “Latin spirit” put “everythingin its order”, as well as, his understanding of the Belgian mission as key in the creation of afro-latine civilisation, might be interpreted as an apology for the colonisation of the Congo.

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