Black Looks - Including an African LGBTIQ+ Archive

Human Rights, Poetry

R.I.P. Aimé Césaire

Prophecy

There,
where adventure keeps a clean eye
there where women shimmer with language
there where death is beautiful in the hand like a milk season bird
there where on bended knee the underground gathers a wealth of sloes more violent than caterpillars
there where for nimble wonder anything goes

there where vigorous night bleeds the speed of true vegetables

there where bees of stars sting a hive’s sky brighter than night
there where my heel sound fills space and counts down the removal of the face of time
there where my word’s rainbow must bring together tomorrow and hope, infante and queen.

for having insulted my masters bitten the sultan’s soldiers
for having moaned in the wilderness
for having called out to my guards
for having appealed to jackals and hyenas shepherds of caravans

I watch
the wild horse of smoke hurry on the stage hem for an instant the lava of its fragile
peacock’s tail, then tearing off its shirt suddenly split its chest and I watch it as
the British Isles as islets as broken rocks melting bit by bit into the lucid sea of the air
where bathe ominously
my face
my revolt
my name.

by Aimé Césaire

translated by Rethabile Masilo (with apologies to Mr Césaire)

Aimé Césaire was born on 26 June 1913 in Basse-Pointe and died on 17 April 2008 in Fort-de-France. May he rest in peace. While studying in Paris he came into contact with African students, among which were Léopold Sédar Senghor. They struck a friendship and exchanged ideas and experiences, founding the Negritude movement in the process.

They first set up the magazine L’étudiant Noir (The black Student), in whose pages the term négritude first appeared. The essence of negritude was the rejection of assimilation by colonialism and other racial systems, and the expression of one’s own being. It was mostly cultural and less political. When Aimé Césaire declared that je suis de la race de ceux qu’on opprime (I am of the race of the oppressed), there was little colour in the meaning, but much harmony with oppressed people, full-stop. He fought that battle and others till today, the 17th of April, 2008. Mr. Césaire has left for us volumes of poems, plays, essays and other genres:

Poésie
* Cahier d’un retour au pays natal, Paris, Présence africaine, (1939; 1960)
* Les Armes miraculeuses (1946; Paris, Gallimard, 1970)
* Soleil cou coupé (1947; Paris, Editions K., 1948)
* Corps perdu (gravures de Picasso), Paris, Editions Fragrance, (1950)
* Ferrements, Paris, Seuil, (1960; 1991)
* Cadastre, Paris, Seuil, (1961)
* Moi, laminaire, Paris, Seuil, (1982)
* La Poésie, Paris, Seuil, (1994)

Théâtre
* Et les chiens se taisaient, Paris, Présence Africaine, 1958; 1997
* La Tragédie du roi Christophe, Paris, Présence Africaine, (1963; 1993)
* Une saison au Congo, Paris, Seuil, (1966, 2001)
* Une tempête, d’après La Tempête de William Shakespeare : adaptation pour un théâtre nègre), Paris, Seuil, (1969; 1997)

Essais
* Esclavage et colonisation, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 1948. Réédition : Victor Schoelcher et l’abolition de l’esclavage, Lectoure, Editions Le Capucin, 2004.
* Discours sur le colonialisme, Paris, éditions Réclames, 1950 ; éditions Présence africaine, 1955.
* Discours sur la négritude, (1987).

Histoire
* Toussaint Louverture, La révolution Française et le problème colonial, Paris, Présence Africaine, (1962.

Entretiens
* Rencontre avec un nègre fondamental, Entretiens avec Patrice Louis, Paris, Arléa, 2004.
* Nègre je suis, nègre je resterai, Entretiens avec Françoise Vergès, Paris, Albin Michel, 2005.

Enregistrement audio
* Aimé Césaire, Paris, Hatier, “Les Voix de l’écriture”, 1994.
[source…]

NOTE: Please read another of our post on Mr. Césaire

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2 Comments

  1. Very powerful eulogy.

    RIP

  2. Ana

    Aimé Césair was an inspiration to many . His life and legacy will remain one of our greatest and exquisite monuments.
    Saludos.