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Youth of Africa, rather listen to the great voice of President Senghor who tried his whole life to reconcile the legacies and cultures at the cross-roads of which chance and the tragedies of history had placed Africa.

He, the child of Joal, who had been cradled by the rhapsodies of Griots said: “We are cultural half-breeds, and if we feel “in Black”, we express ourselves in French, because French is a language of universal vocation that addresses our message as much too the French as to others”.

He also said: “The French has given us the gift of their abstract words - so scarce in our maternal languages. Our words are naturally haloed with vigour and blood; French words radiate with a thousand fires, like diamonds, rockets that light up our nights”.

Thus spoke Leopold Senghor, who honoured all that which humanity understands of intelligence. This great poet and African wanted that Africa should start talking to all of humanity and wrote on its behalf poems in French for all people.

These poems were songs that spoke to all men of fabulous beings that guard fountains, sing in the rivers and hide in the trees.

Poems that made them hear the voices of the dead of the village and their ancestors.

Poems that lead through forests of symbols to return to the sources of the ancestral memory that every people hold at the core of its conscience like an adult holds at the core of his conscience the memory of childhood happiness.

Because every people have known this time of the eternal present, where they search not to dominate the universe but to live in harmony with it. The time of feeling, of instinct, of intuition. The time of mystery and initiation. Mystical times were the sacred and signs where everywhere. The time of magicians, sorcerers and shamans. The time when the spoken word was important because it was revered and repeated from generation to generation, and transmitted, from century to century, legends as ancient as the gods.

Africa has reminded all the peoples of the earth that they shared the same infancy. Africa has reawakened the simple joys thereof, the ephemeral happiness and this need, in which I believe so much, to believe rather than to understand, to feel rather than to reason, this need to be in harmony rather than to conquer.

Those who consider African culture to be backward, those who consider Africans to be big children, all those have forgotten that ancient Greece, which has taught us so much about the use of reason, also had its sorcerers, its diviners, its mysterious cults and secret societies, its mythology that came from the depths of time and from which we still draw today an inestimable treasure of human wisdom.

Africa, which also has its great dramatic poems and tragic legends, when listening to Sophocles, has heard a more familiar voice than it would have thought possible, and the West has recognized in African art forms of beauty that had been its a long time ago and that it felt the need to resuscitate.

Listen then, youth of Africa, how much Rimbaud is African when he places the colours on the vowels as your ancestors put colours on their masks. “Black mask, red mask, black and white masks”.

Open your eyes, youth of Africa, and don’t look anymore, as your elders do too often, at global civilisation as a threat to your identity but as something that belongs also to you.

When you would recognise within the universal wisdom also part of the wisdom that you received from your forefathers, and when you would have the will to make it grow, then will start what I wish to call the African Renaissance.

When you would proclaim that the African is not doomed to a tragic destiny and that everywhere in Africa there would be no other goal but happiness, then the African Renaissance will start.

When you, youth of Africa, would declare that there will be no other objective for an African policy but African unity, and the unity of the human species, then the African Renaissance will start.

When you would fully face the reality of Africa and come to grips with it, then the African Renaissance will start. Because the problem of Africa is that it has become a myth that everyone reconstructs for the requirements of their cause.

And this myth prevents one from facing the reality of Africa.

Africa’s reality is demographic growth that is too high for an economic growth that is too low.

Africa’s reality is that there is still too much famine, too much misery.

Africa’s reality is scarcity that provokes violence.

Africa’s reality is that development is too slow, agriculture produces too little, the shortage of roads, schools and hospitals.

Africa’s reality is a great waste of energy, of courage, of talent and of intelligence.

Africa’s reality is that of a great continent that has everything to succeed, but that does not succeed because it cannot free itself from its myths.

You and you only, youth of Africa, can achieve the Renaissance that Africa needs because only you have the force to do so.

I came to propose this Renaissance to you. I came to propose it to you so that we can achieve it together, because the African Renaissance depends to a large extent on the Renaissance of Europe and the Renaissance of the world.

I know the desire to leave that so many amongst you experience, confronted with the difficulties of Africa.


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