The Prodigal Son
In the context of this class, the term 'prodigal son' comes from Leopold Senghor's poem "The Return of the Prodigal Son." The term also comes up in his poem "Beyond Eros." In both cases the idea of the prodigal son stems from the parable of the prodigal son, in which a son asks for his inheritance before it should be given to him, receives it, and then leaves home to gamble the money away and spend it on prostitutes. Without any money he is forced to sleep with pigs. Eventually, he realizes he made a mistake and that the home he once lived in was greater than he originally thought.
On the first page of his “The Spirit of Civilization” essay, Senghor calls for a Negro/African Renaissance that will lead to a cultural rebirth like that which occurred in Europe. He looks to the European example not for imitation but rather to remind his fellow blacks that if Europe could emerge from the cultural decimation of the Dark Ages and revolutionize their culture; then blacks who have experienced cultural decimation through centuries of colonialism can also create anew and revitalize their culture.