Ghanaian author, poet, playwright and academic, Professor Ama Ata Aidoo is dead at age 81.
With a career spanning more than five decades, she died on Wednesday morning (May 31, 2023), her family has announced.
“The Family of Prof. Ama Ata Aidoo with deep sorrow but in the hope of the resurrection, informs the general public that our beloved relative and writer passed away in the early hours of this morning Wednesday 31st May 2023, after a short illness.
“Funeral arrangements would be announced in due course. The Family requests privacy at this difficult moment,” the family head Kwamena Essandoh Aidoo announced in a short statement.
Prof Ama Ata Aidoo received international recognition as one of the most prominent African writers of the 20th and 21st centuries.
She was born on March 23, 1942 at Abeadzi Kyiakor near Saltpond in the Central Region of Ghana.
She attended the Wesley Girls’ High School and University of Ghana.
The writer, whose work, written in English, emphasised the paradoxical position of the modern African woman.
Prof Aidoo began to write seriously while an honours student at the University of Ghana in 1964).
She won early recognition with a problem play, The Dilemma of a Ghost (1965), in which a Ghanaian student returning home brings his African American wife into the traditional culture and the extended family that he now finds restrictive.
Their dilemma reflects Aidoo’s characteristic concern with the “been-to” (African educated abroad), voiced again in her semi autobiographical experimental first novel, Our Sister Killjoy; or, Reflections from a Black-Eyed Squint (1966).
Prof Aidoo herself won a fellowship to Stanford University in California, returned to teach at Cape Coast, Ghana (1970–82), and subsequently accepted various visiting professorships in the United States and Kenya.
In No Sweetness Here (1970), a collection of short stories, Prof Aidoo exercised the oral element of storytelling, writing tales that are meant to be read aloud.
These stories and Anowa (1970), another problem play, are concerned with Western influences on the role of women and on the individual in a communal society.
Prof Aidoo rejected the argument that Western education emancipates African women.
She further exposed exploitation of women who, as unacknowledged heads of households when war or unemployment leaves them husbandless, must support their children alone.
In 1982–83 she served as Ghana’s Minister of Education.
Aidoo published little between 1970 and 1985, when Someone Talking to Sometime, a collection of poetry, appeared.
Her later titles include The Eagle and the Chickens (1986; a collection of children’s stories), Birds and Other Poems (1987), the novel Changes: A Love Story (1991), An Angry Letter in January and Other Poems (1992), The Girl Who Can and Other Stories (1997), and Diplomatic Pounds and Other Stories (2012).