Anowa by ama ata aidoo essay writer
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.
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, 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. The play was published by Longman the following year, making Aidoo the first published African woman dramatist.
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. 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.
She is the subject of a 2014 documentary film, The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo, made by Yaba Badoe.
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—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.
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", which she runs together with her daughter Kinna Likimani and a board of management.
Aidoo is the editor of the 2006 anthology African Love Stories.
Awards and recognition
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.
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 — the first centre of its kind in West Africa, with Nii Ayikwei Parkes as its director.
- The Dilemma of a Ghost (play), Longman, 1965.
- Anowa (a play based on a Ghanaian legend), Longman, 1970.
- Our Sister Killjoy: or Reflections from a Black-eyed Squint, Longman, 1977.
- Someone Talking to Sometime (a poetry collection), Harare: College Press, 1986.
- The Eagle and the Chickens and Other Stories (for children), Tana Press, 1986.
- Birds and Other Poems, Harare: College Press, 1987.
- An Angry Letter in January (poems), Dangaroo Press, 1992.
- Changes: a Love Story (novel), The Feminist Press, 1993.
- No Sweetness Here: A Collection of Short Stories, The Feminist Press, 1995.
- The Girl Who Can and Other Stories, Heinemann African Writers Series, 1997.
- Diplomatic Pounds & Other Stories, Ayebia Clarke Publishing, 2012.
- African Love Stories – an anthology, Ayebia Clarke Publishing, 2006.
- Aditya Misra, "Death in Surprise: Gender and Power Dynamics in Ama Ata Aidoo's Anowa". Journal of Drama Studies, Vol. 6, No. 1, 2012, pp. 81–91.
- Anne V. Adams (ed.), Essays in Honour of Ama Ata Aidoo at 70: A Reader in African Cultural Studies. Ayebia Clarke Publishing, 2012.
- Ada Uzoamaka Azodo and G. Wilentz, Emerging Perspectives on Ama Ata Aidoo, Africa Research & Publications, 1999.
- Vincent O. Odamtten, The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo: Polylectics and Reading Against Neocolonialism. University Press of Florida, 1994.
- Esther Pujolràs-Noguer, An African (Auto)biography. Ama Ata Aidoo's Literary Quest: Strangeness, nation and tradition, LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing, 2012.
- Nafeesah Allen, "Negotiating with the Diaspora: an Interview with Ama Ata Aidoo", Scholar & Feminist Online, 2009. <<http://sfonline.barnard.edu/africana/aidoo_01.htm>>
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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