France bids farewell to black pride poet Aime Cesaire

(AFP) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy led thousands of mourners at a state funeral Sunday in Martinique for Aime Cesaire, poet and pioneer of the black pride movement.

Revered on his native French Caribbean island and elsewhere in the French-speaking world, Cesaire died aged 94 in hospital in Fort-de-France on Thursday after being admitted for heart problems.

Flags flew at half-staff in Martinique as thousands of mourners -- many dressed in white despite heavy rain -- converged on a local stadium to pay "cultural homage".

A ceramic plaque bearing Cesaire's name and carrying the words " Liberty, identity, responsibility, fraternity" -- the third being an addition to the French revolutionary warcry -- was placed on Sarkozy 's seat ahead of his arrival.

Sarkozy described Cesaire as an "indefatiguable defender of human dignity and respect for human rights ."

The president said the "principal lesson" learned from the poet's life was that true advances towards liberty and dignity are only achieved through a "sense of responsibility".

Relations between the two men had not always been smooth. In 2005, Cesaire refused to host then interior minister Sarkozy amid a row over a new law encouraging schools to teach the "positive role" played by France during its colonial past.

Cesaire's body laid in state after it was carried in a casket across the city on Friday, greeted by tens of thousands who lined the streets to bade him farewell.

With fellow writers such as Leopold Sedar Senghor of Senegal, "Papa Cesaire" invented the term "negritude," which he defined as an "affirmation that one is black and proud of it".

He first used the phrase in the literary review "L'Etudiant Noir" (The Black Student), a seedbed for black consciousness he co-created decades before the emergence of Steve Biko or Martin Luther King.

There had been calls by French politicians to have Cesaire laid to rest in the Pantheon of national heroes in the Latin Quarter of Paris, alongside such literary luminaries as Victor Hugo and Voltaire.

But Yves Jego, the minister for overseas affairs, hinted that Cesaire would have been at odds with those calls.

"My feeling is that the family want his Pantheon to be his island," Jego said.

Sarkozy left Marseille early Sunday, accompanied by a coterie of ministers, Socialist leaders Segolene Royal and Francois Hollande and three former prime ministers -- Laurent Fabius, Lionel Jospin and Pierre Mauroy.

Senegalese Culture Minister Mame Biram Diouf and the prime minister of neighbouring Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit, were also due to attend.

Sarkozy's decision to honour Cesaire with a state funeral was only the fourth time that a literary figure has been accorded such a distinction after Victor Hugo in 1885, Paul Valery in 1945 and Colette in 1954.

Born on June 25, 1913 in the small Martinique town of Basse-Pointe, Cesaire was educated in Paris on a scholarship, before passing an entrance exam for the elite Ecole Normale Superieure university.

Describing himself as "negro, negro from the bottom of the sky immemorial," Cesaire fought against colonialism and racism through political activism and poetry, at a time when France was a major colonial power.

His ideas were first fully expressed in his long poem "Return to My Native Land," a powerful depiction of the ambiguities of Caribbean life and culture .

As a playwright he is best known for two plays, "The Tragedy of King Christophe" and an original adaptation of Shakespeare's "The Tempest."

Cesaire served as mayor of Fort-de-France between 1945 and 2001 and was a deputy in the French National Assembly between 1945 and 1993.

The island of Martinique is a department, or region integrated into France.

Turkey's exports to OIC countries on the rise
Turkey's exports to OIC countries on the rise
Kyrgyzstan introduces temporary ban on export of oil products
Kyrgyzstan introduces temporary ban on export of oil products
Kyrgyzstan eyes importing electricity from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan
Kyrgyzstan eyes importing electricity from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan
Loading Bars
Кazakh Electricity Grid Operating Company opens tender to buy construction materials
Azerbaijan reveals latest data on sales through Azexport portal
Uzbek-Korean JV to buy spare parts for emergency diesel generator via tender
Brent price still vulnerable to any disappointments around global vaccinations
Iran issues data on necessary commodities released from its customs
Pakistani military delegation in Azerbaijan on official visit
Turkey's revenues from exporting cars to Israel down
Turkey reveals number of ships received at Gemlik port in Jan. 2021
Turkey's exports to OIC countries on the rise
Azerbaijani currency rates for March 3
Accreditation of national media for F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2021 begins
Iran's Fereydonkenar Port joins Caspian Sea transportation network
Number of coronavirus cases in Uzbekistan passes 80,000
Oil rises on demand hopes after days of sell-off
Bulgarian companies could participate in recovery projects in Azerbaijan's liberated lands - Ambassador (INTERVIEW)
Finance minister Sunak to promise 'whatever it takes' in new COVID budget plan
Turkish auto sales grow 24.2% in February
Kyrgyzstan introduces temporary ban on export of oil products
EIB, European Council presidents open new EU premises in Georgia
Iran ready to export medical technologies to Syria
Hungary interested in including Azerbaijani gas in country's future energy mix - ambassador (INTERVIEW)
ExxonMobil to cut 7% of its workforce in Singapore
2021 Emmy Awards to be held in September
Ireland to re-establish diplomatic presence in Iran
Azerbaijan to contribute to development of CE work on organizing AI security
Biden takes steps to help Merck boost Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine supply
US Department of Commerce blacklists 14 entities in Russia, Germany, Switzerland
Chinese embassy opposes Indian media's allegation on cyberattacks
OPEC sees positive oil market outlook, continued downside risks
Iran's CBI discloses number and value of exchanged checks
Italian Parliament demands provision of maps of mined areas of Azerbaijan (PHOTO)
AZAL Announces Conditions for Rebooking Tickets for Flights Canceled due to COVID-19 Pandemic
Singapore's manufacturing PMI falls to 50.5 in February
Promise to provide countries with necessary vaccines within COVAX initiative is not fulfilled - State Agency of Medical Insurance
Parliament head to support all joint efforts for new constitution
Georgian President appreciates EU support
Macron to hold phone talk with Iranian counterpart over JCPOA
OECD recommends Georgia to support land registration reform for increasing FDI-SME linkages
Turkmenistan reveals schedule of intercity buses
Azerbaijan's State Tax Service registers Fuzuli Airport LLC
Azerbaijan felt Turkey's support not only during Karabakh war but throughout history - Minister
Int’l Model Non-Aligned Movement Simulation Exercise underway - Azerbaijan Foreign Ministry
Azerbaijan, Germany interested in increasing mutual trade turnover - Deputy minister
Iran's Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale on March 3
Azerbaijani State Agency of Automobile Roads talks about repair and construction on roads
Azerbaijani Finance Ministry places medium-term bonds at auction
Azerbaijan shows footage from Ucbulag village of Fuzuli district (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Georgia to receive first doses of COVID-19 vaccine via Covax platform in February
Irrigation systems to be put into operation in Iran’s agricultural sector
Azerbaijani Defense Ministry shares updated list of martyred servicemen in Second Karabakh War
Larization of loans increase in Georgia
Georgian AgroZone products to be exported abroad from Kutaisi Airport
Turkish specialists together with Azerbaijan’s AzTV to shoot film in Nagorno-Karabakh region
Ro-Pax ferry vessel commissioned by Azerbaijan's president - video report
Azerbaijani winemakers’ production down in 2020
Azerbaijan, Tajikistan discuss development of tourism co-op
Georgia’s banking sector begins year with profit
France uses only quarter of Astrazeneca vaccine doses
Uzbek-Korean JV to buy spare parts for electric actuator via tender
Kazakhstan identifies priority tasks to develop agriculture by 2025
Georgian Ministry of Finance sees decrease in mobilized income tax
Likelihood of interest rate decrease in Azerbaijan for 2021 seems minimal - Unicapital
Azerbaijan's AzNET segment neutralizes more phishing attacks in Jan.2021
Azerbaijan's new borrowings not to raise debt burden - Gazprombank
Azerbaijan studying Turkey's experience to strengthen institution of primary health care (PHOTO)
Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan talk big potential for co-op in agriculture
Hertz set to ride out of bankruptcy with $4.2 billion from investment firms
Money transfers via int'l payment systems down in Kazakhstan
Azercell obtains yet another award on customer experience management
German companies may take part in restoring Azerbaijan's liberated lands - ambassador
Excavation of well in Iran's Ahvaz oil field launched
Uzbekistan considers resuming air communication with Russia
Bahar Azadi gold coin price again falling in Iran
Kazakhstan, Georgia resume mutual flights as COVID-19 restrictions lifted
Uzbekistan eyes expanding mutually beneficial relations with foreign partners
Azerbaijan and Germany to continue co-op on improving qualifications of managers
Generation data of Iran's Shahid Rajaee TPP announced
Lithuania supports subsidizing renewable energy projects in Georgia
Demand for pick-up trucks in Azerbaijan may increase - expert
Kazakhstan boosts agriculture output, sets up tasks for sector's dev't
Turkey issues Jan. 2021 data on passenger traffic at Istanbul Airport
Azerbaijani company discloses output of primary aluminum
Spain's jobless hit four million for first time in five years as pandemic curbs bite
Volume of exports from Iran's Qom Province increases
S.Korean oil company holding exploration on land plots in Uzbekistan
EU executive says joint vaccine strategy not unravelling
Azerbaijan, Germany discuss expanding cooperation in oil & gas sector
Azerbaijani business environment entering recovery period - Minister of Economy
Iran's awaits action from US over JCPOA
Indonesia says identifies two cases of British COVID-19 variant
Europe – Iran held business forum to expand trade
Uzbek-Russian JV completes geological exploration at Akchalak investment block
Azerbaijani electricity supplier first to use special-purpose UAVs
Iran reaches gas export growth
Turkish president instructs to shoot TV series about Karabakh war victory
Cargo, passenger traffic via Turkish Sabiha Gokcen Airport down from early 2021
Germany to extend coronavirus lockdown until March 28
Iran unveils data of imports, exports through Anzali port
Azerbaijan records notable growth in population's US dollar demand
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for March 2
All news