As a part of my African literature course, our class took a trip to the house-turned-museum of Leopold Sedar Senghor. Leopold S. Senghor is a well-respected figure in Senegal as he was a well-known poet and the first president of Senegal. There are a few places around Dakar named after him, references made to his infamous poem Femme Noire in ads on television, and documentaries and books about his life. Senghor owned a home in Dakar with his second wife, Colette Hubert Senghor, that’s situated in one of the nicer areas of Dakar.
The home was recently turned into a museum and opened on November 30, 2014. Everything in the house has pretty much been left in its original condition with a few modifications here and there. Although his house is now a museum, one of the offices is used for government officials, the director of the museum, and other professionals to use for meetings. Therefore, the museum is always guaranteed to have someone other than the tour guides inside.
We were given a tour of the house and I learned quite a bit about Senghor’s personal life that I hadn’t known before. In regards to his personal life, before the tour, I knew that he was a poet before he became the president of Senegal and that he belonged to Serer ethnic group which is the third largest ethnic group in Senegal. I also knew that he had been married twice and split his time between France and Senegal.
A few of the things that I learned post-tour:
- He had three sons between his two marriages but only one son is alive today. He had two sons from his first marriage with Ginette Éboué and one son from his second marriage. The youngest son from his first marriage died after falling out of a building and his son from his second marriage died in a car accident.
- He sculpted as a hobby and some of his sculpture pieces are in his house. He even went to Italy to improve his craft. There’s an award that he received from Italy for his completion of his sculpture studies.
- Senghor was catholic but he believed that religions were just different ways of reaching God.
I learned some other things including his morning ritual, what his style tastes were, and some of his family history. It was interesting to see his living rooms (yes, plural), offices, bedroom, guest room, and etc. The house is extremely beautiful on the inside. I did not take pictures while I was inside because it was a private tour and I didn’t want to interrupt the flow of the guide. However, I do have some pictures of the outside and near the back of the house. I would definitely recommend visiting his house. Not only is it beautiful but you learn more about Senghor as a person.
Until next time,