Merci Papa Aimé

Today, Sunday, Aimé Césaire will be buried with “national honors” on his island of Martinique, with French President Sarkosy in attendance. The people of Martinique have been honoring their poet-politician these few days since his death — go here to check Le Monde‘s photo gallery.

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“The skies are heavier, now that his shoulders are no longer here,” says Gilles Alexandre, the owner of the oldest bookstore in Fort-de-France, Martinique.

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But a controversy has already erupted. At least two French figures have called for Césaire to be buried in the Panthéon, which houses the remains of a few of the great French writers such as Victor Hugo, Colette & Paul Valéry. This would of course be a pure recupération for political ends, and if this was to happen you would see, right behind Sarkosy at the official ceremony, all those right wing French politicians who only two years ago passed a law stating that Colonialism had also had its good sides.

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To those who didn’t agree with or were simply trying to understand his politics, Césaire said: “Read my poems, and you’ll understand my politics.”

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Le Monde also follows the blogs speaking of Césaire, though essentially the francophone ones. Interesting is the Césaire blog on which, Amadoue Iamine Sall, the president of the Maison africaine de la poésie internationale, responds to those who have criticized the poet in the past for not having been a radical enough politician (i.e. coming to an accomodation with France and being for 48 years the Martinican represenative in the French parliament, rather than fighting for complete independence for the island) by quoting Césaire:“Consider my poetry as revenge for my politics !” For Aimé Césaire, Sall suggests,“true independence” consisted in “decolonizing oneself culturally. That’s where he fought his major and profoundest battle .”

The city hall of Fort-de-France with visitors coming to honor Césaire.

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