Episode 40: How Marco Senghor’s quest to create a life outside his famous Senegalese family’s nearly killed him

Perhaps only a handful of people born in Africa can say they had a diplomatic plane when they were children. And we are willing to bet you that no man in the world has been awoken by the legendary Stevie Wonder crawling into bed next to him — mistakenly, of course. But that was Marco Senghor‘s life before he decided to leave and chart his own path in life — a move that nearly cost him his life in San Francisco.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Senegalese-born Marco Senghor’s bar and restaurant, Bissap Baobab, served as a multicultural entertainment venue in San Francisco’s Mission District. Photo used under Creative Commons license from sfmission.com.

Senghor is the grandson of Léopold Sédar Senghor, Senegal’s first president, who ruled the country from independence in 1960 to 1980. Sédar Senghor is regarded as one of Africa’s most beloved statesmen for taking the rare decision to step down from the presidency after 20 years in power. His commitment to peaceful transition of power earned him great love and respect and he is credited with making Senegal a beacon of democracy in a western Africa region with a history of coups and civil wars. But his grandson, Marco, chose to leave that privileged live behind to curve out his own life in California.

Today, Marco Senghor is the renowned owner of Bissap Baobab, a Senegalese restaurant and cultural center in San Francisco’s Mission District. His story is like no other we have heard before, and he tells it well.