Léopold Sédar Senghor (1906--2001) was the legendary Senegalese poet, politician, and cultural theorist who for two decades served as the first president of Senegal (1960–1980), a country in West Africa,
|Wole Soyinka, the fiercest critic of Senghor's|
negritude and Pan-African Identity
Ali Mazrui, famous for his debating skills, stated in his essay Wole Soyinka as a Television Critic: A Parable of Deception in 1991, “I do not need Wole Soyinka’s stamp of confirmation that I am an African. My identity is in my blood, my ancestry, my history, my commitment, my life. If I was somebody constantly looking for approval from people who were "blacker" than me, I would have kept a low profile instead of becoming a controversial African political analyst.” He painfully asks, “Why is Soyinka taking us down this fascist path of racial quantification and genetic explanation?”
|Ali Mazuri, engaged in a great debate with Soyinka about|
pure African identity and Islamic factor
|The concerns of Ali Mazuri in modern-day Africa|
recall those of Maulana Azad's in India
which confront us daily
Black mask, red mask, you black and white masks,
Rectangular masks through whom the spirit breathes,
I greet you in silence!
And you too, my panterheaded ancestor.
You guard this place, that is closed to any feminine laughter, to any mortal smile.
You purify the air of eternity, here where I breathe the air of my fathers.
Masks of maskless faces, free from dimples and wrinkles.
You have composed this image, this my face that bends
over the altar of white paper.
In the name of your image, listen to me!
Now while the Africa of despotism is dying – it is the agony of a pitiable princess,
Just like Europe to whom she is connected through the
Now turn your immobile eyes towards your children who
have been called
And who sacrifice their lives like the poor man his last garment
So that hereafter we may cry ‘here’ at the rebirth of the world being the leaven that the white flour needs.
For who else would teach rhythm to the world that has
died of machines and cannons?
For who else should ejaculate the cry of joy, that arouses the dead and the wise in a new dawn?
Say, who else could return the memory of life to men with a torn hope?
They call us cotton heads, and coffee men, and oily men.
They call us men of death.
But we are the men of the dance whose feet only gain
power when they beat the hard soil.