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African History

Aime Cesaire: 1913 – 2008

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The Martiniquan poet, novelist, playwright and activist, Aime Cesaire died today aged 94. I feel sad that the last of our literary and ideological [negritude] warriors is now gone.

Sad that we people of African descent remain at odds with each other. Where the people who stayed behind have forgotten those who were stolen from their villages and towns. We stand before each other staring at myths and lies constructed not by us, but by those who wish to divide us. But still we believe not what we see but what we are told.

My friend Marian who has also written a tribute in English and French sent me this from a friend of a Martiniquan friend of hers in DC.

Dear Colleagues:

The following is to announce the passing of Aime Cesaire. A poet, playwright, writer, Mayor of Fort-de-France, Congressman, pillar of the Negritude movement, thinker of the African independence movements, Cesaire leaves us with a long legacy of struggle for the dignity of people of African descent around the world, for human rights. As heads of state and dignitaries especially from Africa and the Caribbean are making their way to Martinique to attend his funeral on Sunday, we cannot help but think of the number of people he has influenced world wide through his writings. Cesaire is taught in the majority of the French language departments in universities across the United States and around the world. Among his works “Discourse on Colonialism”, “A Season in the Congo”, “The tragedy of King Christopher” or “Return to My Native Land” have resonated in the 1960s and beyond and have been seminal to liberation struggles around the globe.

Today I also mourn the personal friend and mentor that I visited on every trip to Martinique. I will miss his guidance, strength of character and dignity shrouded in simplicity.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.

Your colleague, Marilyn Sephocle

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3 Comments

  1. Negritude; Afrocentrism, African nationalism- I don’t know where I would be if I never discovered these ideas existed.

  2. He lived a full life. Negritude with L Senghor and co. A great African indeed!

  3. Sad loss, one of the last great Africans.

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