Black mask, red mask, you black and white masks,
Rectangular masks through whom the spirit breathes,
I greet you in silence!
Any you too, my lionheaded ancestor.
You guard this place, that is closed to any feminine laughter,
to any mortal smile.
You purify the air of eternity, here where I breathe the air of
Masks of markless faces, free from dimples and wrinkles,
You have composed this image, this is my face that bends
over the altar of white paper.
In the name of your image, listen to me!
Now while the Africa of despotism is dying - it is the agony
of a pitiable princess
Like that of Europe to whom she is connected through the
Now fix your immobile eyes upon your children who have
And who sacrifice their lives like the poor man his last
So that hereafter we may cry 'hear' at the rebirth of the
world being the leaven that the white flour needs.
For who else would teach rhythm to the world that has
died of machines and cannons?
For who else should ejaculate the cry of joy, that arouses
the dead and the wise in a new dawn?
Say, who else could return the memory of life to men with
a torn hope?
They call us cotton heads, and coffee men, and oily men,
They call us men of death.
But we are the men of the dance whose feet only gain
power when they beat the hard soil.
Léopold Sédar Senghor