LEOPOLD SEDAR SENGHOR AND THE POLITICS OF NEGRITUDE by Irving L. Markovitz

LEOPOLD SEDAR SENGHOR AND THE POLITICS OF NEGRITUDE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A muted but confused scholarly exercise, this work by a Queens College professor examines the relationship between Leopold Senghor's ideology and the program he has pursued since 1960 as president of Senegal. Surveying the twists in Senghor's thought, Markovitz finds elitism a common theme, linking the concept of ""Negritude"" (a term Senghor coined in the '30's to solve the identity problems of alienated black Parisian intellectuals, whose guru he was) to the ""socialism"" espoused by his government, which requires the Senegalese masses to submit their personalities to the authoritarian direction of technocrats. Another link: a pro-Western bias--Senghor never strongly opposed colonialism, has maintained ties with France, and has permitted foreign investment. Markovitz taxes Senghor for being neither an orthodox Marxist nor a Western-style liberal democrat--a criticism which could also be made of most other African leaders. He avoids making any clear suggestions as to what Senegalese leadership actually should do to develop a flourishing democracy or a healthy economic base. The book's organization (half-topical, half-chronological) is as serpentine as the subject's mind, and submerges many interesting themes: the role of the intellectual in politics; the contrast between British and French colonial mentalities, etc. There is no biographical material, so the unenlightened will never know that before he became Father of His Country, Senghor was a world-famous poet. All too bad, since the author is knowledgeable, and Senghor a very unusual figure.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1969
Publisher: Atheneum