Black Woman

by Léopold Sédar Senghor

  • Music
  • Literature
  • Show
The 2017 archive

Isaach De Bankolé and Angélique Kidjo

Cotonou – New York – Paris / Created in 2017

Léopold Sédar Senghor’s tribute to the black woman, interpreted by singer Angélique Kidjo, actor Isaach de Bankolé, and their guests.
Black Woman, Frédéric Maragnani, 2017 © Christophe Raynaud de Lage


“Naked woman, black woman
Clothed with your colour which is life,
with your form which is beauty!
In your shadow I have grown up; the
gentleness of your hands was laid over my eyes.
And now, high up on the sun-baked
pass, at the heart of summer, at the heart of noon,
I come upon you, my Promised Land,
And your beauty strikes me to the heart
like the flash of an eagle (...)”

Opening lines... When Léopold Sédar Senghor writes the poem Black Woman, right after the Second World War, no one knows he will become President of the Republic of Senegal, or that he will fight all his life for his love for language and for the respect of the individual. Named after a poem by the man who invented the concept of Négritude, the closing show of the 71st edition of the Festival d'Avignon, which will be performed in the Cour d'honneur, brings together the Beninese singer Angélique Kidjo and the Ivorian actor Isaach de Bankolé to sing Sengho's lyrical and majestic words, accompanied by Cameroonian saxophonist Manu Dibango and Congolese guitarist Dominic James. A celebration of the African woman, and more... Halfway between theatre and wake, the show moves from poetry to songs, from songs to improvised music, from music to the most learned, most passionate, and most romantic speech. But Senghor isn't just infatuated with the Queen of Sheba: he depicts the African woman in action, the mother, sister, daughter, and lover, who challenges humanity itself with her beauty, her intelligence, and her generosity.


Text Léopold Sédar Senghor
Spatial installation Frédéric Maragnani
Lights Bertrand Killy
Sound Stéphane Cretin

With Angélique Kidjo, Isaach De Bankolé, Manu Dibango, Dominic James, MHD


Production Les Visiteurs du soir
With the support of Sacem for the 71st edition of the Festival d'Avignon
In partnership with France Médias Monde

Élégies majeures by Léopold Sédar Senghor is published by Editions du Seuil.

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