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What is the meaning of Négritude ?

Glorification of the African past


Clarence (bpb) Négritude is a term much used after World War II in Europe and Africa. It embraces the revolt against colonialist values, glorification of the African past, and nostalgia for the beauty and harmony of traditional African society.

It became most popular by the engagement of Leopold Sedar Senghor, the president of the African Republic of Senegal (1960-1980). He was a boy of Senegal, educated in France, involved in Euro-African culture and intellectually able to make a carrier on both continents.

As a writer and poet, Senghor was able to explain the traditions of Africa and describe the value of the African culture of the Negros. The term Négritude owes a great deal to its French intellectual origin. Beside Senghor, the main exponents have been Aimé Césaire and Frantz Fanon.

A useful discussion of the various issues involved is to be found in Orphée noir, in Sartre's introduction to Senghor's ANTHOLOGIE DE LA NOUVELLE POÉSIE NÉGRE ET MANGACHE (1948). Senghor's philosophy and the concept of Negritude have received wide attention and criticism. The concept is defined in contradistinction to Europe.

According to Senghor, the Negro is intuitive, whereas the European is more Cartesian. Senghor's statement about reason and intuition has led to numerous protests. Among others, Sartre has declared that the Negritude is "an antiracist racism".

Senghor said: "Emotion is Negro--Reason is Greek. Négritude is the totality of the cultural values of the black world".

(BJZ, Prometheus 82/2002)



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Copyright 2002 West-Art

PROMETHEUS, Internet Bulletin for Art, Politics and Science,

Nr. 82, Spring 2002