Quotable Quote

Suzanne Cesaire (Martinique, 1915-1966), writer, teacher, scholar, anti-colonial and feminist activist, Surrealist, and wife of writer, Aime Cesaire.

Suzanne Cesaire: “The Camouflage,” Tropiques, nos. 13-14, 1945

“For the pattern of unfulfilled desires has trapped the Antilles and America. From the time of the arrival of the conquistadors and the rise of their technical know how (beginning with firearms), the lands from across the Atlantic have changed, not only in facial appearance but in fear. Fear of being surpassed by those who remained in Europe, already armed and equipped, fear of being in competition with people of color quickly declared inferior in order to better beat them down. It was necessary first and at all costs, be it even the price of the Black slave trade’s infamy, to re-create an American society richer, more powerful, better organized than the European society left behind – yet still desired. It was necessary to take this revenge upon the nostalgic hell that was vomiting its adventurer demons, its galley slaves, its penitents, its utopians upon the shores of the New World and its islands. For three centuries, colonial adventurism has continued – the wars of independence are only an episode – and the American people, whose behavior vis-à-vis Europe has remained often childish and romantic, are still not freed from the grip of the old continent. Of course it is the Blacks of the Americas who suffer the most, in a daily humiliation, from the degradations, the injustices, and the pettiness of colonial society.”

Sylvia Tamale: Decolonization and Afro-Feminism, 2020

“Western logic further hierarchizes dualisms, with one category always considered to be superior or dominant over the other. Thus, Whites are privileged over non-Whites, men over women and humans over nature. The last of these examples is oriented in a philosophical worldview that is deeply rooted in the arrogant principle of anthropocentrism (derived from the Greek anthropos for ‘human’ and kentron for ‘centre’), that emphasizes human supremacy. This notion can be traced back to ancient Greece with the famous dictum declared by philosopher Protagoras: ‘Man is the measure of all things.’ It is this principle that undergirds the mass degradation of nature we are witnessing today in the modern world.”

Sylvia Tamale (Uganda, 1962), academic, teaches law at Makerere University in Uganda