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Aime Cesaire (b 1913) Born in Martinique, is one of the worlds most respected and revered poet and playwrights. The French philosopher and Nobel Prize winner for literature, Jean Paul Sarte said of Cesaire: “He handles the French language better than any Frenchman!” With Loepold Sedar (Senghor), who he met when they both studied at Lycee Louis-le-Grand in Paris in 1935, he is the founder of the negritude movement of West Indian and African writers. He progressed to the Ecole Normale Superieure, where he was elected president of the federation of Martiniquan students. With Senghor and other French West Indian students he brought out the sole issue of the journal L’etudiant noir in 1935, within which he published an article titled ‘Negreries. Jeunesse noire et assimilation.’ This article contains the seeds of all the themes that he was to elaborate so eloquently in his later writings, in particular the rejection of the assimilationists assumptions of French colonialism, as well as forcefully stressing the need for colonised Africans and West Indians to assert their separate cultural, psychological, spiritual and racial identities. Cesaire’s world famous poem Cahier d’un retout au pays natal, has remained his most internationally acclaimed work. He began writing it in 1935 while on holiday in Yugoslavia and did not complete it until 1937, after revisiting Martinique in 1936 for the first time in five years. Cesaire’s poem shifts violently between resignation and despair, to hope and revolt, as well as moving from prose to verse. It describes the journey of a colonised black West Indian from conditions of physical, cultural and existential exile back to his spiritual homeland. The poem paints graphically the psychological damage done to colonised peoples by colonialism and racism, especially when it plunges into deep despairing self-denying plaintive wails, when comparing contributions to civilisations. But it also raises as high in hopes, as it plunges in despair. The first version of the poem finally appeared in August 1939, published by the review Volontes, after initially being rejected by French publishers in 1937-8. The same year Cesaire returned to Martinique, and founded with his Martiniquan wife Suzanne Roussy also a poet, and other Martiniquan writers, Tropiques. Which came under threat from the local Vichy regime. Here at home Cesaire taught at Lycee Schoelcher and influenced a new generation, while his Tropiques developed strong racial and cultural self assertion. In 1941, Cesaire’s work came to international recognition when Andre Breton visited Martinique, and wrote his essay “un grande poete noir” which served as the preface to and expanded and revisited 'Cashier'. It was this version of his poem that brought Cesaire to prominence, not only throughout the French Empire but also to the Anglo phone world too, when the English version was published in New York in 1947. Cesaire was approached to stand for major of Forte-de-France and depute for the central constituency of Martinique for the Assemblee Nationale Constutuantee in 1944 by Martiniquan Communists, although he had had no previous contact with the communists either in Martinique or France,. he was elected to both posts, and held them for an unprecedented four decades standing down as depute in 1993. In 1947 he won further international awards, when with the Diop, Senghor, Damas and Alioune and others, founded 'Presence Africaine', A Literary review. In 1950 he cemented his international reputation with the publication of his 'Discours sur le coloniasme', which identified him as an implacable enemy of colonialism, and as a champion, and eloquent advocate for the rights of colonial peoples to chart their destiny independent of the colonial powers. Aime Cesaire has continued to write plays and anthologies, while being heavily involved in the political administration of Fort-de-France in Martinique, which seemed to dominate him at times. Yet he has been extremely successful as an internationally acclaimed man of letters, a consummate, political theorists, and practical administrator, something which is extremely rare in ours or any time let alone own!