Senghor's West Africa in words and photos

Young Liberian woman — Monrovia


"Alabama" aged Liberian — Boni Hills

I have been with you to that corn village and as far as the gates of night,
And I was speechless before the golden enigma of your smile.
From Senghor’s “I Have Been with You”

my blackness is not stone, its deafness thrown against the clamor of day.
my blackness is not a drop of dead water on the world’s dead eye.
From Senghor’s “Notebook of a Journey to One’s Country of Birth”

A huge village of huts made of mud and branches, a village crucified on two pestilential ditches.
Hatred and hunger ferment together there in the torpor of a deadly summer…

The wind is a guitar in the trees and the barbed wire is more melodious than harpstrings
The rooves bend down to listen, stars smile with their sleepless eyes;…

The air grows gentle in the village of mud and branches
And the earth grows human as the sentries, the roads beckon them to freedom.
From Senghor’s “Camp 1940”


Upcountry Liberian village

All photographs from "A Liberian Gallery" (1971-72) by and from the collection of Robert Cotner.

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