(GIN) — Ghanaian author, poet, playwright, and scholar Ama Ata Aidoo is resting in power after seven decades of an illustrious career.
A renowned feminist and celebrated writer and playwright, Aidoo spent most of her early life among the Fante community, later studying at the University of Ghana and University of Cape Coast. In the U.S., she attended Brown and Stanford.
Aidoo wrote both fiction and nonfiction, and in some cases, infused the two genres to create potentially real-world situations based on the conflicts and struggles between race, authority, and gender.
Among her plays was “The Dilemma of a Ghost,” first published 1965, in which a Ghanaian student returning home brings his African American wife into the traditional culture and extended family that he now finds restrictive.
Her fiction particularly dealt with the tension between Western and African world views. Her first novel, “Our Sister Killjoy,” published in 1977, 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.” She also wrote several children’s books.
Her novel “Changes: A Love Story” won the 1992 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book (Africa), about a career-oriented woman as she divorces her first husband and navigates a new relationship.
Aidoo was appointed by Jerry Rawlings as Ghana’s education minister from 1982 to 1983, before leaving the country for self-imposed exile in Zimbabwe, where she became a full-time writer.
A collection of poetry—“Someone Talking to Sometime”—won the Nelson Mandela Prize for Poetry in 1987. Her piece “To be a woman” was included in the 1984 anthology “Sisterhood Is Global: The International Women’s Movement Anthology,” edited by Robin Morgan. Another story, “Two Sisters,” is in the 1992 anthology “Daughters of Africa.”
In 2000, Aidoo 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.”
Her radical voice could be heard in a video addressed to western colonizers:
“As far as I’m concerned, since we’ve met you people 500 years ago, look at us, you are still taking…
“It’s true…where would the whole Western world be without Africa? Our cocoa, our timber, our gold, our diamonds, our platinum, our Whatever…Everything you have is from us! I’m not just saying it; it’s a fact. And in return, what have we got? Nothing! Anti-personal indoctrination against ourselves.”
“This morning I hear that our dear sister bring-joy Ama Ata Aidoo has joined the ancestors,” wrote Tsitsi Dangarembga of Zimbabwe3 on social media. “Condolences to her family & friends. We have lost a granary of wisdom & knowledge.”