ABSTRACT

The philosophies of negritude, represented in this part by a speech given by Senghor, and subjected to critiques in the readings by Fanon and Cabral, stand as a highly influential example of black essentialist or nativist theory. Theories of black consciousness date from (at the least) the nineteenth-century work of West Africanbased Edward Wilmot Blyden, but through negritude in the 194(}s and 1950s such theories achieved a more international audience and articulation. Though negritude, which spans West Africa to the diasporic Caribbean, is philosophically and historically particular to French colonisation, it' has an anglophone counterpart of sorts in the movements of African, Caribbean and African-American panAfricanism. By the time Senghor gave this speech to the 6rst Festival of African Arts, in Dakar in 1966, he had been president of Senegal for the six years of its independence. Outlining the distinctiveness and value of a racialised black African culture, he pursues in fact a multiple strategy: Africa, he argues, has affinities with many of the philosophical, scienti6c and modernist aesthetic innovations of modern European discoveries, thereby undermining the opposition; at the same time, the 'essential' values of African culture, such as collectivity, dialogue and humanism, are venerated for their potential to resolve global conflict and introduce an alternative and compassionate world view.