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Aimé Césaire's literary production falls into many different literary genres. The overarching theme of Césaire's works is the condemnation of colonialism which the author knew first hand as he was born in the French Antilles. To the colonial message that required assimilation of the colonized to the ways of the colonisers, Césaire opposed the concept of "négritude", which was to influence the entire movement asking for the independence of French colonies and that other intellectuals such as the Senegalese Senghor helped to develop. The word first appeared in Césaire's poem Return to My Native Land (1939) and was defined by the writer as
the awareness of being a black taking charge of one’s destiny as a black man, of one’s history and culture.
His militancy for the Négritude movement is also reflected in his involvement in magazines such as Présence africaine, L'étudiant noir and Tropique. These publications functioned as a forum for black writers from the colonies to voice their perspectives on colonial rule, often dispelling stereotypes about themselves and attesting to the vitality of their culture.
As a playwright, Césaire confronted either directly or metaphorically the evils of colonial domination. While The Tragedy of King Cristophe and A Season in the Congo reflect two historical events, the failure of an early Haitian movement for independence and the fall of African leader Lumumba respectively, The Tempest turns its shakespearian model on its head to portray different approaches to address the colonial conflict.
Finally, as a politician and a philosopher, Césaire theoretically elaborated ideas to support his call for négritude and for the emancipation of colonial dominions.
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