Thursday, December 17, 2009

David Diop: A voice of Negritude

Yesterday, I got to read the poem 'Africa' by a Senegalese poet David Diop, which is considered as a milestone in the history of West African literature.  In order to know more about the poet, I went on googling and was very much surprised to find very little or almost no information about him on net--just one or two poetry pages and one or two blog posts.  Even the English Wikipedia has no article on Diop, and I had to translate the French wiki page (that itself was a stub) to know a bit more about him.  Here is the essence of all that I could find.

David Diop was born to a Senegalese father and Cameroonian mother in the city of Bordeaux, France, in 1927.  He debuted writing poetry while he was still at school.  He was one a contributor to Leopold Senghor's (who would later become the first president of independent Senegal) anthology of poems published in French.  This was a major milestone in the history of black french literature as it put forth the movement of 'Negritude' by asserting the greatness of black people contrary to the white man's dismissal of them as primitive and uncivilized.

Diop's poetry talks about the glorious past of Africa and also recollects the untold sufferings and humilities endured by the Africans in the last few hundred years.  It also warns the Africans that political freedom will not essentially bring back their old glory and they have to work had to regain it or they will only get "the bitter taste of liberty."

Diop suffered from poor health for the most part of his life and died at a very early age of 33 in an air crash off Dakar, Senegal, in 1960.  His poetry will always be remembered as one of the keystones in the arch of African literature.


  1. We are having a lot of searches from Philippines about the most anthologized poem of David Diop. 'Africa' is the poem, which is the most anthologized poem of Diop. It was originally written French and it's English translation along with original French is available at the link in this present post. In fact, most of the poems of Diop were destroyed with him in his last aircrash and only 17 to 22 poems of him are left for us to learn about him.

    It would be a great pleasure for us if our unknown friends from Philippines let us know if they have any problems or they expect something else.

    ~Team Ghalibana.


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