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Apr 20, 2018

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Ama Ata Aidoo, née Christina Ama Aidoo (born 23 March 1942, Saltpond), is a Ghanaian author, poet, playwright and academic. She was also a Minister of Education in Ghana under the Jerry Rawlings administration. She currently lives in Ghana, where in 2000 she established the Mbaasem Foundation to promote and support the work of African women writers.[1][2]

Life

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Born in Saltpond in Ghana's Central Region, she grew up in a Fante royal household, the daughter of Nana Yaw Fama, chief of Abeadzi Kyiakor, and Maame Abasema. Aidoo was sent by her father to Wesley Girls' Senior High School in Cape Coast,[1] from 1961 to 1964. The headmistress of Wesley Girls' bought her her first typewriter. After leaving high school, she enrolled at the University of Ghana in Legon and received her Bachelor of Arts in English as well as writing her first play, The Dilemma of a Ghost, in 1964.[3] The play was published by Longman the following year, making Aidoo the first published African woman dramatist.[4]

She worked in the United States, where she held a fellowship in creative writing at Stanford University. She also served as a research fellow at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, and as a Lecturer in English at the University of Cape Coast, eventually rising there to the position of Professor.

Aside from her literary career, Aidoo was appointed Minister of Education under the Provisional National Defence Council in 1982. She resigned after 18 months, realising that she would be unable to achieve her aim of making education in Ghana freely accessible to all.[5] She has also spent a great deal of time teaching and living abroad for months at a time. She has lived in the United States, Britain, Germany, and Zimbabwe. Aidoo taught various English courses at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, in the early to mid-1990s. She is currently a Visiting Professor in the Africana Studies Department at Brown University.

Aidoo is a patron of the Etisalat Prize for Literature (alongside Dele Olojede, Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, Margaret Busby, Sarah Ladipo Manyika and Zakes Mda), created in 2013 as a platform for African writers of debut books of fiction.[6]

Film

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She is the subject of a 2014 documentary film, The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo, made by Yaba Badoe.[7][8][9][10]

Writings

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Aidoo's works of fiction particularly deal with the tension between Western and African world views. Her first novel, Our Sister Killjoy, was published in 1977 and remains one of her most popular works. Many of Aidoo's protagonists are women who defy the stereotypical women's roles of their time, as in her play Anowa. Her novel Changes won the 1992 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best Book (Africa). She is also an accomplished poet—her collection Someone Talking to Sometime won the Nelson Mandela Prize for Poetry in 1987[11]—and has written several children's books.

She contributed the piece "To be a woman" to the 1984 anthology Sisterhood Is Global: The International Women's Movement Anthology, edited by Robin Morgan.[12]

In 2000 she founded the Mbaasem Foundation, a non-governmental organization based in Ghana with a mission "to support the development and sustainability of African women writers and their artistic output",[2] which she runs together with her daughter Kinna Likimani[13] and a board of management.[14]

Aidoo is the editor of the 2006 anthology African Love Stories.[15]

Awards and recognition

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Awards Aidoo has received include the 1992 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best Book (Africa) for her novel Changes.

The Aidoo-Snyder book prize, awarded by the Women’s Caucus of the African Studies Association for an outstanding book published by a woman that prioritizes African women’s experiences, is named in honour of Ama Ata Aidoo and of Margaret C. Snyder, who was the founding director of UNIFEM.[16]

Launched in March 2017, the Ama Ata Aidoo Centre for Creative Writing (Aidoo Centre), under the auspices of the Kojo Yankah School of Communications Studies at the African University College of Communications (AUCC) in Adabraka, Accra, was named in her honour[17] — the first centre of its kind in West Africa, with Nii Ayikwei Parkes as its director.[18][19]

Selected works

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As editor

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Further reading

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References

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This essay reads the plays of Ghanaian writer Ama Ata Aidoo in dialogue with influential theories of transnationalism to argue that her treatment of colonialism, slavery, gender, and diaspora stretches and reshapes Paul Gilroy's conception of the black Atlantic. Neither Afrocentric nor essentialist, Aidoo is not usually thought of as part of the black diaspora, despite her constant engagement with notions of pan-Africanism, black nationalism, and slavery. By reading two of her plays which specifically engage with the question of black diasporic encounters to explore the links between African Americans and Africans, the author shows how Aidoo's textured representation of tradition and modernity, history and memory, and the local and the global helps define a model of the black Atlantic that can accommodate Africa as a vital participant in transnational exchanges. In showing that traditions are not static, but changing and adapting all the time, Aidoo suggests that the usable past is not a fact to be assumed, but rather a dilemma to be pondered and debated. While The Dilemma of a Ghost (1965) reveals the assumptions inherent in the cultural politics of the Black Arts era, including the questions of pan-Africanism, black masculinity, gender, and nation, Anowa (1970) takes up the more difficult task of re-imagining the relationship across the Atlantic by way of a searching exploration of the tensions internal to a so-called traditional African society in light of the controversial subject of African participation in slavery. By providing a densely textured meditation on the meaning of slavery, the workings of gender in a traditional society, and the relationship between communal and individual agency, Aidoo offers a long view of history to invite us to probe the meaning of past and present and to open up temporal possibilities outside of both nationalist and neocolonialist ones.

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You don't have to spend your time and energy trying to cheer up someone who has already decided to stay in a bad mood. Believe it or not, you can actually hurt people by playing into their self-pity. Joyce Meyer People with a growth mindset believe that they can improve with effort. They outperform those with a fixed mindset, even when they have a lower IQ, because they embrace challenges, treating them as opportunities to learn something new. Travis Bradberry If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships - the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world at peace. Franklin D. Roosevelt I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it's the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It's probably the most important thing in a person. Audrey Hepburn Some people are born with very little; some are fortunate enough to have it all. When I grew up, we didn't have much. I had to hustle to get what I wanted... but I had that hunger for more. I didn't always make the right choices, but I learned from my mistakes. Curtis Jackson As a black woman, my politics and political affiliation are bound up with and flow from participation in my people's struggle for liberation, and with the fight of oppressed people all over the world against American imperialism. Angela Davis We are supposed to enjoy the good stuff now, while we can, with the people we love. Life has a funny way of teaching us that lesson over and over again. Sheena Easton Animation offers a medium of story telling and visual entertainment which can bring pleasure and information to people of all ages everywhere in the world. Walt Disney The hardest thing for - not only an artist but for anybody to do is look themselves in the mirror and acknowledge, you know, their own flaws and fears and imperfections and put them out there in the open for people to relate to it. Kendrick Lamar Competition is always a good thing. It forces us to do our best. A monopoly renders people complacent and satisfied with mediocrity. Nancy Pearcey People spend too much time finding other people to blame, too much energy finding excuses for not being what they are capable of being, and not enough energy putting themselves on the line, growing out of the past, and getting on with their lives. J. Michael Straczynski Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal. - Albert Camus Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal. Albert Camus The secret of freedom lies in educating people, whereas the secret of tyranny is in keeping them ignorant. Maximilien Robespierre If I could give one tip for people - it's not an exercise or nutrition regimen. It's to walk your talk and believe in yourself, because at the end of the day, the dumbbell and diet don't get you in shape. It's your accountability to your word. Brett Hoebel Yes, I guess you could say I am a loner, but I feel more lonely in a crowed room with boring people than I feel on my own. Henry Rollins Genocide is not just a murderous madness; it is, more deeply, a politics that promises a utopia beyond politics - one people, one land, one truth, the end of difference. Since genocide is a form of political utopia, it remains an enduring temptation in any multiethnic and multicultural society in crisis. Michael Ignatieff How horrible, fantastic, incredible, it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas-masks here because of a quarrel in a faraway country between people of whom we know nothing. Neville Chamberlain What I try to tell young people is that if you come together with a mission, and its grounded with love and a sense of community, you can make the impossible possible. John Lewis A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. Douglas Adams We shall never change our political leaders until we change the people who elect them. Mark Skousen I always tell my kids if you lay down, people will step over you. But if you keep scrambling, if you keep going, someone will always, always give you a hand. Always. But you gotta keep dancing, you gotta keep your feet moving. Morgan Freeman This is what people don't understand: obesity is a symptom of poverty. It's not a lifestyle choice where people are just eating and not exercising. It's because kids - and this is the problem with school lunch right now - are getting sugar, fat, empty calories - lots of calories - but no nutrition. Tom Colicchio I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. Colin Kaepernick People can judge me for what I've done. And I think when somebody's out in the public eye, that's what they do. So I'm fully comfortable with who I am, what I stand for, and what I've always stood for. Hillary Clinton Thin people are beautiful, but fat people are adorable. Jackie Gleason I love making new friends and I respect people for a lot of different reasons. Taylor Swift We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams. Jimmy Carter There is no better feeling than doing well while you are doing good. If you really want to meet the nicest, most caring people in your field, get involved with charity work. The thankless hours that go into planning charity dinners, running a carnival, and gathering donations for silent auctions are noticed and appreciated. Jay Samit Most people want to avoid pain, and discipline is usually painful. John C. Maxwell My idea of good company is the company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company. Jane Austen Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. George S. Patton People love me. And you know what, I have been very successful. Everybody loves me. Donald Trump You can't just sit there and wait for people to give you that golden dream. You've got to get out there and make it happen for yourself. Diana Ross The best way to inspire people to superior performance is to convince them by everything you do and by your everyday attitude that you are wholeheartedly supporting them. Harold S. Geneen Software innovation, like almost every other kind of innovation, requires the ability to collaborate and share ideas with other people, and to sit down and talk with customers and get their feedback and understand their needs. Bill Gates Love is a strange emotion. It is ever evolving. Lust is transient. With time, one realizes that love and togetherness are two different things. Very few people are lucky enough to experience the two emotions simultaneously. Randeep Hooda People work better when they know what the goal is and why. It is important that people look forward to coming to work in the morning and enjoy working. Elon Musk I accept you, and you get the same respect from me whether you are black, white, gay straight, Asian, bisexual, Australian, tall, fat, whatever it is. We are all people, and I look at the people of the world the same way, as my brothers and sisters. Nash Grier No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Steve Jobs People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them. Epictetus Being misunderstood by people whose opinions you value is absolutely the most painful. Gloria Steinem There's always gonna be setbacks; there's always gonna be knockdowns. There's always gonna be people telling you, 'Hey, you suck!' Post Malone Tough times don't last, but tough people do. And I've been through some tough times, and I know a lot of people can recall tough times, and maybe are going through some tough times right now, but they don't last. Alonzo Mourning People often say that 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder,' and I say that the most liberating thing about beauty is realizing that you are the beholder. This empowers us to find beauty in places where others have not dared to look, including inside ourselves. Salma Hayek Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives. James Madison I think there's no higher calling in terms of a career than public service, which is a chance to make a difference in people's lives and improve the world. Jack Lew Bad food is made without pride, by cooks who have no pride, and no love. Bad food is made by chefs who are indifferent, or who are trying to be everything to everybody, who are trying to please everyone... Bad food is fake food... food that shows fear and lack of confidence in people's ability to discern or to make decisions about their lives. Anthony Bourdain I think many people can relate to that excruciating pain of love gone wrong. I'd rather have a broken arm than a broken heart. Christie Brinkley An organization, no matter how well designed, is only as good as the people who live and work in it. Dee Hock When faced with a challenge, happy families, like happy people, just add a new chapter to their life story that shows them overcoming the hardship. 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