The French house of Léopold Sédar Senghor open to the public

The French residence of the first president of Senegal Léopold Sédar Senghor (1906-2001), poet, academician and cantor of “Negritude”, will be open to the public, the town hall of Verson (northwest) said on Wednesday.

“It’s a world first. The succession took two and a half years but it ended well: since July 7 we have owned the park, the house, the furniture “and approximately 25 m3 of written archives, in accordance with the wishes of Colette Senghor, the second wife of the politician, told AFP Marie-Hélène Brioul, deputy mayor of the town of Verson, located 8 km from Caen.

The poet-academician and his muse, Colette, in front of their home in Verson

In her will, the former first lady of Senegal, whose family is of Norman origin, asks “that this house of the poet be a living place accessible to the public”, according to the town hall of Verson.

From 1957, the couple spent all their summers in Verson, before settling there permanently in the early 1980s, according to the town hall. The poet-academician born in 1906 in Joal-Fadiouth, Senegal, where his childhood home became a museum, died in Verson in 2001, as did his muse, Colette Senghor, in 2019.

For Heritage Days on September 17 and 18, guided tours of the white stone house with its many windows will be offered to the public, who will also have access to its large wooded park.

Some notebooks of the poet-president

In the house are “a few notebooks” of the poet, according to Ms. Brioul. But most of the archives that Verson inherited cannot yet be presented to the public.

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Kept in a shed in Bretteville-sur-Odon, between Verson and Caen, the documents still have to be the subject of a precise inventory.

There are letters with other heads of state, according to Ms. Brioul, but it is possible that we will also discover documents “which concern” the academician, the poet “.

“We are much in demand by researchers” who are interested in the “context in which he wrote, the first drafts of an elegy to arrive at the final elegy. He wrote in small notebooks and then afterwards it took shape, ”explains Ms. Brioul.

The writings which gave rise to publication are them at the National Library of France (BnF), according to the elected.

The town hall is still considering how it will make the house accessible to the public in the longer term.

With AFP

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