African Francophone poet and storyteller Birago Diop was born outside Dakar, Senegal, in 1906. Encouraged by his family from a young age to pursue his literary and scholarly aspirations, he earned a BA from Lycée Faidherbe in Saint-Louis, Senegal, before eventually moving to France to pursue veterinary medicine at the University of Toulouse. In Paris, Diop encountered many other African, black American, and Caribbean expatriates and fell into the emerging negritude literary and artistic movement.
In 1933, Diop returned to Senegal, where his career as a veterinarian led him throughout rural West Africa. On these excursions, he encountered indigenous Wolof traditions and oral literature, which greatly informed his later work. African subject matter treated in classically French forms characterizes his unique style. A recipient of the Grand Prix Littéraire de l’Afrique-Occidentale Francaise and an Officier de la Légion d’Honneur, Diop died in Dakar in 1989.
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