To open Nietzsche 6/13, the seminar segment focusing on the French poet, Bernard Harcourt states that “Aimé Césaire’s encounter with Nietzsche—in his own words, one of his essential reference points—nourished a vitality, an indignation, a passion for tragedy, for art, for knowledge and politics, in sum, a will to power that would enrich his poems and plays, but also propel his anti-colonialism and political struggles.” 
Poet. Playwright. Philosopher. Politician. Apostle of decolonization. Aime Césaire (1913-2008) was many things to many people. Born in Martinique, a French colony in the eastern Caribbean, Césaire was a popular and influential figure, a major surrealist poet and a politician, holding a deputy’s seat in the French Assembly for 37 years. Despite popularity and life in the public eye, he remained provocative and creative, a strong critic of colonialism and its attendant racism and inequality, and a proponent of (re)creating black identity that was not merely an attempt to conform to the French cultural norms or simply a reversal, but from within. Even as an intellectual on the world political and cultural scene, he remained “accessible to a constituency of underprivileged blacks.” 
Césaire started the magazine Tropiques with friends he met at university. In these pages, Césaire would publish poetry and theory that would begin to make his name in literary and philosophical circles. With Léon-Gontran Damas, Césaire formulated the notion of Négritude. 
The concept of Négritude emerged as the expression of a revolt against the historical situation of French colonialism and racism…Being colonial subjects meant that they all belonged to people considered uncivilized, naturally in need of education and guidance from Europe, namely France. In addition, the memory of slavery was very vivid in Guiana and Martinique. 
Négritude is “the self-affirmation of black peoples, or the affirmation of the values of civilization of something defined as “the black world” as an answer to the question “what are we in this white world?” is indeed “quite a problem”: it poses many questions.” Négritude is a perspective from which to critique several facets of social and political life, and functions as revolt, philosophy, identity, ontology, aesthetics, epistemology, politics, and beyond. 
However, in true Nietzschean fashion, Césaire says in a lecture delivered in 1987 at Florida International University in Miami:
Négritude, in my eyes, is not a philosophy. Négritude is not a metaphysics. Négritude is not a pretentious conception of the universe. It is a way of living history within history: the history of a community whose experience appears to be … unique, with its deportation of populations, its transfer of people from one continent to another, its distant memories of old beliefs, its fragments of murdered cultures. How can we not believe that all this, which has its own coherence, constitutes a heritage? (2004, 82) 
During this period, Césaire found inspiration in Nietzsche’s work, specifically The Birth of Tragedy. The concept of the “voluntary sacrifice of the Hero so that the collectivity may live” was especially resonant with Césaire. In the early issues of Tropiques, Césaire and collaborators examined Nietzsche’s ideas. His “theory of the will, as well as his ideas on the cycle of culture, were particularly attractive to Césaire, as they reinforced surrealist attacks on the constraints of reason and affirmed the possibility of a heroic rebirth of Négritude.” In the Fall 1943 issue, Césaire wrote of his admiration for what he saw as Nietzschean aspects of Paul Claudel’s work: “Claudel, never so fulgurating as when he ceases to be Catholic to become earth, planet, matter, sound, and fury, super ego, superman, whether he exalts the will to power or opens the homicidal floodgates of a humor à la Jarry.” (Tropiques, Fall 1943, p. 8).  Here Césaire recognizes in Claudel the exhibition of Nietzschean qualities found in Zarathustra’s preaching of the Übermensch, the philosophy of the earth, the disciplined creativity of overcoming resistance from outside as well as self-overcoming, persevering through inner resistance and fear, and to express one’s will to power in the world through acts of self-creation and rebirth in service of affirmation of one’s inner vision.
Bernard Harcourt sums up:
It is in the poetic arts, in the Dionysian, that Césaire would draw much of the vitality and poetic knowledge necessary to resist colonial and Western domination. In this sense, Césaire’s writings demonstrate not only the influence of his early Nietzschean encounters, but rather how much more can be done—in a revolutionary way—with those early fragments and aphorisms. And so, it is to Césaire’s art form and creativity, his poetic knowledge and political practice, that we can turn to for our own inspiration and resistance in these dark times. 
Below: Democracy Now! Césaire retrospective after his death in 2008
Césaire, Nietzsche, and the Struggle Against Colonialism
 Aimé Césaire: The Collected Poetry. Trans., with Introduction and Notes by Clatyon Eshleman and Annette Smith. University of California Press, Berkeley, 1983. pp 1-7.
 “Négritude”. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/Négritude/
 Note 6 on “Négritude”. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/negritude/notes.html#6