Une Saison au Congo. - (Paris): Ed. du Seuil (1973). 116 S. 8°
Aimé Césaire, qui a élaboré et défini le concept de négritude, donne ici une des pièces de théâtre les plus représentatives du combat politique qu'il a mené parmi les intellectuels noirs d'Afrique et des Caraïbes.
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Aimé Césaire (1913-2008) was a legendary and influential Caribbean poet, playwright and public intellectual, who was also one of the creators of the Négritude movement in Francophone literature, whose aim was to unite the peoples of the Caribbean and African French colonies in opposition to the "mother country". Une saison au congo is the third of four plays that Césaire wrote in his lifetime, which is about the brief and tumultuous career of Patrice Lumumba, the first Prime Minister of the Republic of Congo. Lumumba, a former beer salesman and political activist, was elected to office in July 1960 after the country gained its independence from Belgium, but he soon ran afoul of Belgium, the US and other western European nations and the United Nations, which resulted in his arrest by his top general Joseph Mobutu and his subsequent torture and assassination in January 1961 by Belgian and Congolese soldiers. This play was written in 1966, and was first performed at the Théâtre de l'Est Parisien the following year. The central question of Une saison au congo is the choice that newly liberated African countries must answer: whether to choose dipenda, an state of quasi-independence in which foreign governments, former colonizers or appointed dictators and their cronies choose the country's path and steal the majority of its wealth while the majority are condemned to poverty and premature death, or uhuru, the Swahili word for freedom, in which all citizens can participate in the country's destiny, free from external or internal domination or intimidation, and have the opportunity to succeed and thrive alongside their neighbors. The second path is the more difficult one to take, but it is the one that will more likely result in an improved standard of living for its citizens, and long term stability for the country. Lumumba was targeted and imprisoned by the colonial police force in 1959 for his political activity as the leader of the Congolese national movement (MNC), after a demonstration in Stanleyville led to the deaths of 30 protestors. Due to political pressure from his MNC colleagues he was freed and allowed to travel to Brussels early the following year, where he participated in the conference that led to the declaration that the Republic of Congo would be granted its independence. He was hailed as a hero by the Congolese people, but he first invoked the ire of the Belgian government on Independence Day, when he gave a spontaneous speech that was sharply critical of Belgium and its colonial rule, in the presence of the Belgian king. Lumumba was faced with crises through his seven month term in office. The Belgian government, concerned that losing the wealth contained in the Congolese mining industry would cause it to become the "Liechtenstein of Europe", secretly collaborated with the leader of Katanga, the richest province, and supported a separatist movement whose aim was to keep profits flowing from the Congo to Belgium in exchange for enriching the Katangan leader and his cronies. Lumumba, with the support of President Kasa-Vubu and the chief of the military, Joseph Mobutu, engaged in a military strike against the separatist movement. Lumumba sought support from the United States, which turned him down, and the United Nations, which took a passive and indifferent stance toward the Congolese government. He then turned to the USSR for support, which led Belgium, the US and possibly the UK to secretly plot his removal and assassination. Mobutu removed both Lumumba and Kasa-Vubu from power, and ultimately Lumumba was captured, brutally tortured and executed by Congolese and Belgian troops loyal to Mobutu on 17 January 1961. Césaire portrays Lumumba as an idealistic, fiery and uncompromising leader, whose political naïveté and inability to see the dangers posed by his former close friend Joseph Mobutu led to his downfall. He was passionately committed to a democratic Congo and a united African continent that was free of foreign domination, national corruption and regional differences, but he was also...