UNESCO pays tribute to Aimé Césaire

UNESCO pays tribute to Aimé Césaire
  • © UNESCO/P. Lagès

Addressing UNESCO’s Executive Board as it was concluding its 179th Session, Olabiyi Babalola Joseph Yaï, President of the Board, and Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, paid tribute to the memory of Aimé Césaire, who died in Martinique on 17 April 2008.

The President of the Executive Board expressed his deep emotion at the death of “he who will remain the voice of the voiceless”. “A great baobab has fallen […]. This great French language poet and playwright was also a great humanist; our pain is immense,” he declared.

Mr Matsuura saluted the “eulogist of the concept of ‘Négritude’, along with Léopold Sedar Senghor from Senegal and Léon-Gontran Damas from French Guyana […]. Aimé Césaire dedicated his life to poetry and politics. Beginning in the 1930s, he fought all the battles against colonialism and racism. Today UNESCO has lost one of its most admirable friends, and defenders of human rights one of their most emblematic figures,” he stated.

“You will undoubtedly recall his video conference participation in the award ceremony for the Toussaint Louverture Prize presented to him by UNESCO in 2004. The prize rewards efforts to promote recognition of the equality of peoples and cultures, and to fight discrimination and exclusion inflicted upon the descendants of enslaved people. It could not have better laureates than Aimé Césaire and Abdias do Nascimento, two tireless combatants for freedom and fundamental rights, honoured that evening. What we will retain from Aimé Césaire is the universal dimension of his call for human dignity, vigilance and responsibility,” he continued.

“Let us remember his words and together pursue his universal battle. We will certainly have numerous occasions to pay him homage during the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights,” the Director-General concluded.

The Executive Board, at the invitation of President Yaï, then observed a minute of silence as a tribute to Aimé Césaire.

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokeswoman
  • Source:Flash Info N° 048-2008
  • 18-04-2008
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