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UNESCO Head Pays Tribute To Martinique Poet

UNESCO head pays tribute to Martinique poet of 'la négritude'

17 April 2008 - The head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) mourned the death today of Aimé Césaire, the Martinique poet and the founder of the artistic and cultural movement "la négritude."

"UNESCO has lost one of its most valuable friends," Koïchiro Matsuura, the agency's Director-General, told its Executive Board in Paris.

"We have all been marked by the universal import of Aimé Césaire's call for human dignity, watchfulness and responsibility."

Mr. Matsuura noted that the poet had tirelessly opposed colonialism and racism since the 1930s.

In 2004, Mr. Césaire was awarded UNESCO's Toussaint Louverture Prize in recognition of his commitment to equality among peoples and cultures and to the struggle against discrimination and exclusion.

Calling the poet a "voice of the voiceless," Olabiyi Babalola Joseph Yaï of Benin, President of the UNESCO Executive Board, said that "a great baobab has fallen, as we say back home. This great poet and playwright of the French language was also a great humanist."


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