Thursday, April 17, 2008

Quand un révolutionnaire se tait

The poet, playwright, and father of a movement that came to be known as "négritude" (an affirmation and pride of being black) in the 1930s and 40s, long before any equivalent movement elsewhere Aimé Césaire passed away today.

I didn't really understand his work, like Cahier d'un retour au pays natal, when I read it in school, but looking back, it was nothing if not revolutionary. His voice was the first to artfully scream of the injustice and violent oppression of French colonialism in the Caribbean and elsewhere. His work inspired André Breton and Franz Fanon. His use of literature and the surreal as a means of critiquing colonialism was steeped with an authenticity and gravity that other french authors could never really hope to speak with.

Je viendrais à ce pays mien et je lui dirais : Embrassez-moi sans crainte... Et si je ne sais que parler, c'est pour vous que je parlerai».
Et je lui dirais encore :
« Ma bouche sera la bouche des malheurs qui n'ont point de bouche, ma voix, la liberté de celles qui s'affaissent au cachot du désespoir. »

A quote I found of his a while ago, that I think is just as true today, as it was during the height of the anticolonial struggle:

«Une civilisation qui s'avère incapable de résoudre les problèmes que suscite son fonctionnement est une civilisation décadente.»
[ Aimé Césaire ] -
Discours sur le colonialisme

Loosely translated "a civilization that proves itself incapable of resolving the problems that it has itself created, is a decadent civilization."

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