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Organized on the theme « Senghor and the arts », the exhibition dedicated to Léopold Sédar Senghor, first president of Senegal, opened its doors at the Musée du quai Branly Jacques Chirac on Tuesday, February 7. More information in the following!

Tribute to the poet and first president of Senegal

Léopold Sédar Senghor, who passed away in 2001, was the first president of Senegal. He was also a poet, a committed man of letters, an author who dedicated his life and his work to the theme of « negritude ». On Tuesday, February 7, 2023, an exhibition was inaugurated in his honor at the Musée du quai Branly Jacques Chirac. Nearly 22 years after his death, France has decided to pay tribute to this lover of the language of Molière, but also to his cultural diplomacy, launched at the independence of Senegal in 1960. Defender and explorer of the notion of « negritude », Léopold Sédar Senghor was a man of singular character, known for his sensitivity and his love of letters.
Lasting nine months (from February 7 to November 19, 2023), the exhibition organized at the Quai Branly Jacques Chirac Museum aims primarily to present the first president of Senegal, but also to question his cultural policy. How does it do this? By constructing « a sort of manual of Senghorian thought made up of essays, archival texts, interviews, unpublished photographs and reproductions of works of art that accompanied the life and work of Senghor ». In detail, the exhibition sets out to explore Senegal’s cultural policy and diplomacy following the country’s independence in 1960. At least that is what the Musée du quai Branly says, which emphasizes that it wants to return to the major achievements of this policy, particularly in the fields of visual and performing arts. Léopold Sédar Senghor was a proponent of cultural crossbreeding, a concept that aims to engage in intercultural dialogue and unite traditions.

Affirming the role of Africa in the writing of universal history

« African art is a gushing source that does not dry up », declared Léopold Sédar Senghor in 1966. Beyond the defense of the negro art of the past, the poet-president wanted to show the profusion of African art, thus affirming the role of the African continent in the writing of universal history. It was Leopold Senghor who, in April 1966, organized the first edition of the World Festival of Negro Arts. He also launched the construction of several infrastructures designed to promote arts and culture in Senegal, such as the Daniel-Sorano National Theater in 1965, the Senegalese Manufactures of Decorative Arts (MSAD)…
It is thanks to the support of Mr. Ladreit de Lacharrière, a generous patron, that the exhibition has been realized. It is also directed by the Senegalese Mamadou Diouf, professor of African studies and history at Columbia University in the United States, along with two other curators.