Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Passing of Aime Cesaire

Aime Cesaire, one the founding fathers of the Negritude Movement, with Leopold Sedar Senghor, Leon Gontran Damas, Birago Diop, and Bernard Dadie, in the early 1930s, passed away Thursday in Fort-de-France (Martinique) at age 94.

According to the International Herald Tribune, "Aime Cesaire will be buried in his native Martinique on Sunday despite suggestions that the poet and politician belongs with other honored figures in the Pantheon of Paris. Some French officials, including Culture Minister Christine Albanel and former presidential candidate Segolene Royal, had asked that Cesaire be buried in the hallowed Pantheon.

A public memorial ceremony is to be attended by French president Nicolas Sarkozy, soccer great Lilian Thuram and Caribbean officials such as Cuba's culture minister, according to a government statement. Officials at the capital of the French overseas department are opening park-and-ride areas and will provide free bus service to residents. Only relatives and top government officials will be allowed at his burial following the ceremony.

Thousands of people clutching Cesaire's picture or wearing T-shirts in his memory crowded into a soccer stadium Friday to view his body and pay their respects. They sang and recited his poetry as they surrounded his coffin, placed in the middle of the stadium beside candles and flowers."

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