Senegal Acquires Léopold Sédar Senghor’s Library.. A Step Towards Preserving Cultural Heritage

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Léopold Sédar

The Senegalese government has successfully acquired the extensive library of Léopold Sédar Senghor, enriched with numerous dedicated works, including those by renowned authors like Jacques Prévert and Louis Aragon. This acquisition paves the way for the transfer of the books to Dakar.

The undisclosed transaction follows two weeks of negotiations between Senghor’s heir and the Senegalese government, represented by Ambassador El Hadji Magatte Seye in France. In mid-April, a scheduled auction in Normandy, northwestern France, was halted at the request of Senegalese authorities.

Jean-Gérard Bosio, who served as Senghor’s cultural and diplomatic advisor for 35 years, lauds the Senegalese government’s commitment to reclaiming and preserving Senghor’s legacy. He sees it as a commendable effort to safeguard what he terms as “Senghor’s heritage.”

“This new leadership continues the significant initiatives of the Senegalese state, and hopefully, they will preserve and transmit the history, creations, visions, and philosophies of Senghor—a source of education for the youth. There is a need to impart the wisdom of the elders and the beauty of their works to the youth of a nation,” remarks Bosio.

Céline Labrune-Badiane, a historian and member of the Léopold Sédar Senghor research group, expresses relief at the library’s preservation, particularly given its relevance to the emergence of the Negritude movement. However, she notes mixed reactions among Senegalese regarding its return, citing lingering tensions due to Senghor’s close ties with France.

Labrune-Badiane highlights the ongoing effort to reunite Senghor’s dispersed heritage, emphasizing the importance of digital copies of archives housed in Senghor’s former residence in Verson, Normandy. These archives, spanning from the 1960s to the 1980s, offer insights into Senegal’s history and must be preserved for future generations.

Senegal’s acquisition of Senghor’s library represents a significant step towards safeguarding cultural heritage and fostering a deeper understanding of Senghor’s contributions to literature and intellectual discourse.

Soukaina Sghir

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