Friday, April 18, 2008

Au Revoir, Aimé Césaire

At 94, Aimé Césaire had lived through -- and been a major player in -- the postcolonial twentieth century. His legendary poem about Martinique, Cahier d'un retour au pays natal inspired and incited a generation of African and Caribbean writers to fight for independence, self-determination and self-expression with his concept of negritude. Not least among them was Wole Soyinka, who oppsed negritude by saying, "a tiger does not proclaim its tigritude, it pounces," to which Leopold Senghor responded: A tiger doesn't speak!. With Césaire's death, a literary tiger has been silenced.

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