Whiz Poet, Playwright & Author Prof. Ama Ata Aidoo Passes on At Aged 81

Legendary Ghanaian Playwright, Poet and renowned author of ‘The Dilemma of a Ghost’, Ama Ata Aidoo has joined her maker.

According to her family, the Former Education Minister and academic birthed on March 23, 1942, passed on peacefully at her residence on Wednesday, May 31, 2023, early hours.

In an official communique, the family stated, “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, May 31, 2023, after a short illness.”

The family head, Kwamena Essandoh Aidoo counted, “Funeral arrangements would be announced in due course.”

The family requests the general public privacy in its difficult moments of grief.

  • Brief Biography Of Prof. Ata Aidoo

With a career spanning more than fifty years, she has gained international recognition as one of the most distinguished African writers of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Ama Ata Aidoo attended Wesley Girls’ Senior High School in Cape Coast from 1961 to 1964.

After high school, she enrolled at the University of Ghana, Legon, where she obtained the degree of Bachelor of Arts in English and also wrote 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.

After graduating, Aidoo held a fellowship in creative writing at Stanford University in California, before returning to Ghana in 1969 to teach English at the University of Ghana.

She served as a research fellow at the Institute of African Studies and as a lecturer in English at the University of Cape Coast, where she eventually rose to the position of professor.

Aidoo was appointed Minister of Education under the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) in 1982.

  • Her Writing

Aidoo’s plays include The Dilemma of a Ghost, produced at Legon in 1964 (first published in 1965) and Pittsburgh in 1988, and Anowa, published in 1971 and produced at the Gate Theatre in London in 1991.

Her works of fiction particularly deal with the tension between Western and African worldviews.

Her first novel, Our Sister Killjoy, was published in 1977 and remains one of her most popular works.

It is significant for portraying a dissenting viewpoint on sexuality in Africa and especially LGBT in Africa.

Many of Aidoo’s other protagonists are also females who disobey the stereotypical women’s roles of their time, as in her play Anowa.

Her book 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[22]—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.

Her story “Two Sisters” appears in the 1992 anthology Daughters of Africa, edited by Margaret Busby.

In 2000, Aidoo established 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.

In 2012, she launched Diplomatic Pounds & Other Stories a compilation of short stories and another which is a collection of essays by renowned writers in Ghana, Africa and the African Diaspora.

Aidoo has received several awards, including the 1992 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book (Africa) for her novel Changes.

May the gentle prolific writing soul of Prof. Ama Aidoo rest in the blossom of the Lord. Profound condolences to her family and the state for this great loss.

© 2023 • Story By Edem Latsu Nukafu
Writer’s email: edemlatsu093@gmail.com

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