Senegal Saves Former President Senghor's Library from Auction in France

Senegal races to save renowned poet Senghor's library from auction, preserving his literary legacy and cultural heritage.

Nitish Verma
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Senegal Saves Former President Senghor's Library from Auction in France

Senegal Saves Former President Senghor's Library from Auction in France

The library of Léopold Sédar Senghor, Senegal's first president and a highly acclaimed poet, was recently saved from being auctioned off in France due to the intervention of the Senegalese government. The collection, consisting of 343 volumes with dedications from authors, was set to be sold by the Caen auction house in Normandy.

News of the impending sale sparked a mobilization of academics, professors, and researchers who called on Senegal to take action. The Senegalese state expressed interest in acquiring the entire library and has suspended the auction for 15 days to allow for negotiations with the auction house and Senghor's heir.

Why this matters:The preservation of Senghor's library is indispensable for safeguarding Senegal's cultural heritage and the intellectual legacy of a significant African leader. The successful acquisition of the collection by the Senegalese government would ensure its accessibility to the public and future generations.

Senghor, who passed away in 2001, was a champion of the Négritude movement and the first African member of the French Academy. His library provides valuable insight into his intellectual affinities and the literary figures who surrounded him in the post-war period.

The books in the collection are being offered at affordable prices, ranging from 10 to 40 euros, as the primary value lies in the dedications from celebrated authors such as Aimé Césaire and Jacques Prévert. The Senegalese government plans to create a museum dedicated to Senghor to house the library and make it accessible to the public.

Last October, Senegal had previously prevented the auction of Senghor's jewelry and military decorations by purchasing the entire collection to preserve the national heritage. The current efforts to acquire Senghor's library align with the government's commitment to safeguarding and promoting the former president's legacy.

If an agreement is not reached within the next two weeks, the 300 lots comprising Senghor's library will be put back on the market for auction. Researchers and international organizations have advocated for the Senegalese state to secure the works, emphasizing their historical significance and the importance of preserving Senghor's intellectual heritage.

Key Takeaways

  • Senegal's govt. intervened to save Senghor's 343-book library from auction in France.
  • The library provides insight into Senghor's intellectual affinities and literary connections.
  • Senegal plans to create a museum to house and make the library accessible to the public.
  • Senghor was a champion of Négritude and the first African member of the French Academy.
  • If no agreement, the 300-lot library will be auctioned, with calls for Senegal to secure it.