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Présence Africaine is a pan-African quarterly cultural, political, and literary magazine, published in Paris, France, and founded by Alioune Diop in 1947. In 1949, Présence Africaine expanded to include a publishing house and a bookstore on the rue des Écoles in the Latin Quarter of Paris. The journal was highly influential in the Pan-Africanist movement, the decolonisation struggle of former French colonies, and the birth of the Négritude movement.
The magazine published its first issue in November 1947, founded by Alioune Diop a Senegalese born professor of Philosophy, along with a cast of African, European, and American intellectuals, writers, and social scientists, including Aimé Césaire, Léopold Sédar Senghor, Alioune Sarr, Richard Wright, Albert Camus, André Gide, Jean-Paul Sartre, Théodore Monod, Georges Balandier and Michel Leiris. While not all authors published in the magazine were from the African diaspora, its subtitle (Revue Culturelle du Monde Noir/Cultural Review of the Negro World) makes clear that the editors saw themselves engaged it the cultural and political struggles of panafricanism. With the move by Aimé Césaire and Léopold Sédar Senghor to PA (from Césaire's own journal L'Etudiant noir), the magazine became the pre-eminent voice of the Négritude movement.
In 1956, Alioune Diop and Présence Africaine organised the 1st International Congress of Black Writers and Artists (1er Congrès international des écrivains et artistes noirs) in Paris, which included Aimé Césaire, Léopold Sédar Senghor, Jacques Rabemananjara, Cheikh Anta Diop, Richard Wright, Franz Fanon, and Jean Price-Mars, and for which Pablo Picasso designed a poster.
While there have always been English-language abstracts and occasional English-language articles in the magazine, the primary language has been French since its inception. Between 1955 and January 1961, the magazine also published an English edition (also entitled Présence africaine), which ran to 60 issues.
Editions Présence Africaine was the first to publish most of the best known Francophone African writers of the 20th century, including the literature of Mongo Beti, Ken Bugul, Birago Diop, Djibril Tamsir Niane, Williams Sassine, Ousmane Sembène, Léopold Sédar Senghor, as well as the philosophical works of Cheikh Anta Diop among others. Editions Présence Africaine was also the first imprint to publish French translations of Anglophone writers such as Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, and the pan-Africanist leaders Kwame Nkrumah and Julius Nyerere.
Alioune Diop remained publisher until his death in 1980, when his wife Christiane Mame Yandé Diop took over. The 50th anniversary of Présence Africaine was celebrated at UNESCO in Paris in 1997, and attended by Daniel Maximin and Wole Soyinka among others.
As of the end of 2007 Présence Africaine has run to 173 issues, with its Editions Présence Africaine publishing over 400 works, 322 of which are still in print. Discourse on Colonialism by Aimé Césaire, published first in 1955, remains its best-selling work. In addition, new African works are published, by novelists including Hamidou Dia or Dieudonné Gnammankou and historians such as Aboucrary Moussa Lam.
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