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Leopold Sedar Senghor
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World Leader
    (October 9, 1906-December 20, 2001)
    Born in Joal, Senegal
    Politician, poet, and cultural historian
    Founded the Senegal Democratic Bloc (1948)
    First President of Senegal (1960-80)
    Wrote 'Chants of the Shadows' (1945), 'Black Hosts' (1948), 'Nocturnes' (1961), 'Poems' (1964), and 'Collected Poems' (1991)
    Founding member of the Negritude movement promoting African culture and aesthetics
    He failed the entrance exam for the Ecole Normale Superieure.
    He fathered three sons in between his two marriages.
    He sent the army into the campus of the University of Dakar to crush student protests (1969).
    The failure of either French President Jacques Chirac or Prime Minister Lionel Jospin to attend his funeral was considered a major affront.
    During World War II, he was part of a group of French colonial soldiers who escaped execution after being captured when a French officer convinced the German commander that killing surrendered prisoners would dishonor the German army and the Aryan race.
    After he was released from a POW camp for health reasons, he joined the French resistance.
    He wrote the lyrics for the Senegalese national anthem, 'Le Lion Rouge' ('The Red Lion').
    Although a self-proclaimed socialist, he avoided the Marxist and anti-Western ideologies adopted by many post-colonial rulers.
    He was the first African elected to Academie Francaise (1983).
    He received the Grand Cross of both the Legion of Honor and the Order of Merit.
    He was one of the few people to nominated for Nobel Prizes in both Literature (1963) and Peace (1966).

Credit: C. Fishel

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