Senghor Cultural Religious and Political essay

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" (2009) Oguejiofor states that there is no understanding "except if there is misunderstanding, a negativity that becomes the originative instance of hermeneutics…" (2009)

Oguejiofor writes that Senghor's concept of negritude is centered on the misunderstanding or misrepresentation of the African and his heritage, a situation that has since imposed enormous burden on all aspects of his life." (Oguejiofor, 2009) Oguejiofor states that negritude has been described "…as a philosophy of social action" and states additionally that in the view of Senghor "negritude was 'a weapon of defense and attack and inspiration." (2009) Specifically Senghor sates that negritude is the "sum total of the values of the civilization of the African world, it is not racialism, it is culture." (Oguejiofor, 2009)

Oguejiofor writes that negritude as a philosophy "has the advantage of 'recognizing the situatedness of our lived historicity as the proper object of reflection for African philosophic thought. (Salhi as cited by Oguejiofor, 2009) That recognition is held to entail "an awareness of the battered ego of the African under colonialism, as well as of the almost complete denigration of his tradition and cultural heritage." (Oguejiofor, 2009)

Senghor writes: "Africa's misfortune has been that our secret enemies, in defending their values, have made us despise our own." (cited in Oguejiofor, 2009) From this view negritude "…is not simply a reaction directed at an oppressor. It has a dual focus. It is an attempt to unearth the reality beneath a falsified image of African culture." (Oguejiofor, 2009) Furthermore, negritude is also an effort to "bolster the flattened ego of many Africans in order to counter the inferiority complex which years of slavery, colonialism, apartheid and underdevelopment have ingrained in their psyche." (Oguejiofor, 2009) Oguejiofor states that "for Julio Finn, negritude 'is nothing but a desire to be oneself." (2009)

In the view of Senghor and others who think as did Senghor negritude "requires a return to the source, to the land of birth, its values and civilization." (2009) Oguejiofor (2009) states that Senghor and "thinkers of his ilk, to do this requires a return to the source, to the land of birth, it values and civilization." During the years in which the concept of negritude was developed by Senghor there was also "an evolution bringing different nuances, elaborations, and interpretations." (Oguejiofor, 2009)

Negritude can be distinguished "according to different foci and emphases in particular writers at particular times." (Oguejiofor, 2009) Three strands of the movement is stated to be identified by Jacques Louis Hymans and as stated by Oguejiofor there are many negritudes:

(1) the aggressive negritude clamoring for recognition of the African values;

(2) the conciliatory negritude advocating cultural miscegenation or cross-breeding; and (3) an inventive negritude lending towards a new humanism. (Oguejiofor, 2009)

4. Three Primary Types of Negritude

These three primary types of negritudes have been present since 1931 according to Oguejiofor, however "to the period and the militant, one of these aspects has taken precedence over the other." Oguejiofor states that these three are inseparable "the conciliatory and the inventive are in the aggressive just as the inventive and the aggressive are in the conciliatory and the aggressive and the conciliatory in the inventive." (2009)

Oguejiofor states of these that "all are found in each and each is found in all." (2009) Oguejiofor writes of negritude, and states that there is "the impossibility of giving a definition to the philosophy of negritude, its basic inspiration and overflows to the philosophy of negritude, epistemology, its idea of society, and also into its universalism." (2009)

When attempting to define Negritude, according to Oguejiofor resulting is the '…impossibility of giving a definition to the philosophy of negritude, its basic inspiration and overflows to the philosophy of negritude, its basic inspiration overflows and into its metaphysics and epistemology, its idea of society, and also into its universalism." (2009)

The Quest Journal states in the work entitled: "The Roman Catholic Church, and the Hermeneutics of Race, as two Contexts for African Philosophy" states that when Africans as well as their descendents throughout the world first confronted racism in their writings and their political activism they did so as long-standing victims of racism who

"…sought to regain, and celebrate dignity and freedom. Understandably, the language of anti-racism was initially predicted on the central concept of race and went through a phase when the proud affirmation of African somatic traits had to put an end to Blacks' internalized self-negation imposed by Whites' racism. Du Bois, Cesaire, Senghor, and others of their generations, could still phrase both their indignation, and their affirmation of self-respect, in terms of race. For a long time, the discourse of race continued to appear as the most obvious way to articulate socio-economic inequality, exclusion, and the desire for emancipation." (Quest, 2005)

The Quest Journal goes on to state that the time when race could be:

"…naively invoked as if it were neutral, universal and self-evident category, has ended sometime during the second half of the 20th century. This shift in discourse was a consequence of the very success of the anti-colonial and anti-racial struggle, in Africa, as well as in American, Asian, and Oceanian former colonies, -- aided by the global human-rights movement extending over more than two centuries, and more recently (from the 1940s onward) by the rise of cultural relativism in the social sciences and philosophy. These developments have combined, from the 1930s onward, with the demolition of the 'scientific' racial edifice by scientists (geneticists, other human biologists, psychologists, anthropologists, political scientists), relegating racism to pseudo-scientific status ('man's most dangerous myth' -- Ashley Montague), and with the philosophical reflection on the dehumanizing implications of racism both in the colonial and in the Nazi context." (Quest, 2005)

The editorial in the Quest Journal notes that the present notion of an African Renaissance has not passed the attention of commentators and is "not very different from other earlier racialogically-based concepts relating to the black subject such as Senghor's Negritude. Also, there are a few theoretically sophisticated raciologically derived concepts of blackness available that surpass the general horizons offered by the current articulation of African Renaissance. For instance, Senghor's concept of Negritude is far more sophisticated than many of his contemporaries assumed. By contrast, Wole Soyinka's famous taunt that "a tiger needs not proclaim his negritude" in relation the Senghorian aesthetics of blackness now seems to be ill-conceived." (Quest, 2005)

The reaction of Senghor was to a political ecology of racism "which shook his faith in the Enlightenment modernity and its claims to universal humanism." (2005) Senghor, instead of giving in to "…nihilistic despair…fashioned instead an ideology of humanism that tried to grapple with the particular and universal in human experience." (cited in Quest, 2005)

When Senghor was imprisoned for the already mentioned two years period he composed poetry, read the work of Goethe and delved into Western philosophical works and as well reestablished his link with his fellow Africans and songs and tales were shared from Africa and this resulted in the "fostering [of] an alternative understanding of humanism and society." (Quest, 2005)

The Quest Journal editorial states that it seems nice to think that the prison experiences of Senghor as well as Senghor's knowledge spanning the intellectual traditions of the Western world and his admiration for values, traditions and cultures of Africa together resulted in a "subjectivity that was transcultural and transnational in it sympathies, accomplishments and aspirations." (Quest, 2005) Senghor set the stage for "a post-anthropological humanism, one that truly points to the possibilities for a democratic and cosmopolitan world." (Quest, 2005)

5. Poetry as 'Key' Outlet for Combating Cultural Alienation in for Africans

The work of Nyathi (2005) states that the work of Senghor influenced many and in fact that poetry "became a key outlet for Africans to combat cultural alienation." The work of Baaz and Palmberg (2001) entitled: "Same and Other: Negotiating African Identity in Cultural Production" relates the writings of Leopold Sedar Senghor "on negritude and the ideas of negritude which are "above all associated with the writings of Senghor and Aime Cesaire, were developed by African, Afro-American and Caribbean intellectuals in Paris in the 1930s." (Baaz and Palmberg, 2001) Negritude was defined by Senghor as "the sum of the cultural values of the black world." (Baaz and Palmberg, 2001)

According to Baaz and Palmberg (2001) the content "of this 'sum' and the basic idea of the cultural specificity of Africa…[continue]

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