Africa · Memorable words

dear white brother


This is a poem called “Cher frère blanc” by Léopold Sédar Senghor, a Senegalese poet best known for having created the concept of Négritude (He is also one of the only African ruler to ever have resigned from the Presidency):


Cher frère blanc,

 Quand je suis né, j’étais noir,
Quand j’ai grandi, j’étais noir,
Quand je suis au soleil, je suis noir,
Quand je suis malade, je suis noir,
Quand je mourrai, je serai noir.

Tandis que toi, homme blanc,
Quand tu es né, tu étais rose,
Quand tu as grandi, tu étais blanc,
Quand tu vas au soleil, tu es rouge,
Quand tu as froid, tu es bleu,
Quand tu as peur, tu es vert,
Quand tu es malade, tu es jaune,
Quand tu mourras, tu seras gris.

Alors, de nous deux,
Qui est l’homme de couleur ?


Dear white brother,

When I was born, I was black,
When I grew up, I was black,
When I am in the sun, I am black,
When I am sick, I am black,
When I die, I will be black.

While you, white man,
When you were born, you were pink,
When you grew up, you were white,
When you go in the sun, you are red,
When you are cold, you are blue,
When you are scared, you are green,
When you are sick, you are yellow,
When you die, you will be grey.

So, between you and me,
Who is the colored man?



4 thoughts on “dear white brother

  1. I heard of this poem in primary school! But I didn’t know that it was in French originally. It’s a gem! And thank you for introducing me to Senghor.


    1. Senghor is one of my favorites. You can smell, feel, taste and see Africa on each of his syllables. He is a great, great man. A true AFRICAN. I have so much love for him and for his words.

      1. Sorry for the late reply. I was in Paris recently and asked in a poetry bookstore, and they didn’t know. You would have to ask a professor of African Literature specializing in West African writers and poetry, as that is the only type of person who will have such specific information. Here is a list of Senghor’s published work:

        Prière aux masques (Circa 1935 – Published in collected works during the 1940s).
        Chants d’ombre (1945)
        Hosties noires (1948)
        Anthologie de la nouvelle poésie nègre et malgache (1948)
        La Belle Histoire de Leuk-le-Lièvre (1953)
        Éthiopiques (1956)
        Nocturnes (1961). (English tr. by Clive Wake and John O. Reed Nocturnes, London: Heinemann Educational, 1969. African Writers Series 71)
        Nation et voie africaine du socialisme (1961)
        Pierre Teilhard de Chardin et la politique africaine (1962)
        Poèmes (1964).
        Lettres de d’hivernage (1973)
        Élégies majeures (1979)
        La poésie de l’action : conversation avec Mohamed Aziza (1980)
        Ce que je crois (1988)

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