Aimé Césaire was born inBasse-Pointe, Martinique in 1913. He considered himself of Igbo descent from Nigeria, and considered his first name Aimé retention of an Igbo name. He traveled to Paris to attend the Lycée Louis-le-Grand on an educational scholarship. There he met a Senegalese student, the future poet and African politician Léopold Senghor. In 1934 Césaire, with Senghor and Guyanan poet Léon Damas, founded the student journal Etudiant Noir (Black Student). This group of black Francophone intellectuals developed the concept of “Negritude,” the embrace of blackness and Africanness as a counter to a legacy of colonial self-hatred. (Poetry Foundation, 2017) In 1936, Césaire began work on his long poem Cahier d’un retour au pays natal, a vivid and powerful depiction of the ambiguities of Caribbean life and culture in the New World and this upon returning home to Martinique.
Césaire married fellow Martinican student Suzanne Roussi in 1937.
He was one of the greatest poets and some of his works included:
- La Tragedie du roi Christophe,Salzburg, Austria, Salzburg Festival, 4 August 1964.
- Une Tempête,Hammamet, Festival d’Hammamet, Summer 1969.
- Une Saison au Congo,Paris, Theater de l’Est, 4 October 1976.
- Cahier d’un retour au pays natal,translated into Spanish by Lydia Cabrera as Retorno al país natal, preface by Benjamin Peret, illustrated by Wilfredo Lam (Havana: Molina y Cía, 1942); original French version (Paris: Brodas, 1947); Cahier d’un retour au pays natal: Memorandum on My Martinique, French and English edition, English translation by Lionel Abel and Ivan Goll, preface by André Breton (New York: Brentano’s, 1947); definitive edition, preface by Petar Guberina (Paris: Présence Africaine, 1956).
- Les Armes miraculeuses(Paris: Gallimard, 1946).
- Soleil cou-coupé(Paris: Editions K, 1948).
On 9 April 2008, Césaire had serious heart troubles and was admitted to Pierre Zobda Quitman hospital in Fort-de-France. He died on 17 April 2008.
Césaire was accorded the honour of a state funeral, held at the Stade de Dillon in Fort-de-France on 20 April. President Nicolas Sarkozy was present but did not make a speech. Pierre Aliker, who served for many years as deputy mayor under Césaire, gave the funeral oration.
The most interesting thing about Aime Cesaire apart from fighting for what he knew is that he never remarried after the death of his wife in1966.
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