Ama Ata Aidoo, one of the most influential and celebrated African writers of the 20th and 21st centuries, died on May 31st, 2023 at the age of 81.
She was a prolific author, poet, playwright, and academic who explored themes such as feminism, postcolonialism, culture, and identity in her works.
In this article, we will pay tribute to her life and legacy.
Early Life and Education
Born on March 23rd, 1942 in Saltpond, Ghana, Aidoo began writing at a young age and published her first collection of poems, The Eagle and the Chickens and Other Stories, in 1964.
She later earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Ghana in 1964 and a master’s degree in literature from Stanford University in 1970.
Ama Ata Aidoo Writing Style
Aidoo’s writing style was characterized by her use of oral traditions, folklore, humor and satire.
She often blended English with Ghanaian languages such as Akan and Fante to create a distinctive voice and to challenge the dominance of the colonial language.
She also experimented with different genres and forms, such as novels, short stories, poems, essays and plays.
Ama Ata Aidoo Major Works
Aidoo’s first novel, Our Sister Killjoy or Reflections from a Black-Eyed Squint, was published in 1977 and was hailed as a groundbreaking work of African literature.
The novel follows a young Ghanaian woman who travels to Europe and experiences racism, sexism and alienation.
Aidoo also wrote several acclaimed plays, such as :
- Anowa (1970)
- Dilemma of a Ghost (1965)
- The Girl Who Can (1997)
These plays challenged the patriarchal and colonial norms of her society.
Her other notable works include:
- Changes: A Love Story (1991)
- The Dangers of Proverbs (1995)
- Diplomatic Pounds and Other Stories (2012)
- No Sweetness Here and Other Stories (1970)
Ama Ata Aidoo Quotes
Aidoo was known for her witty and insightful quotes that captured the essence of her worldview and vision.
Some of her famous quotes are:
- The best thing for being sad is to learn something.
- You cannot go through life without trusting somebody because you have to start with yourself.
- The only way to cope with something deadly serious is to try to treat it a little lightly.
- If you don’t like someone’s story, write your own.
- The creative act is not pure. History evidences it. Sociology extracts it. The writer loses Eden, writes to be read and comes to realize that he is answerable.
Ama Ata Aidoo As a Feminist Writer
Aidoo was widely regarded as one of the pioneers of African feminism and one of the first African women writers to address the issues of gender inequality and oppression in her works.
She portrayed strong and complex female characters who challenged the traditional roles and expectations imposed on them by their society.
Aidoo also advocated for the empowerment and education of African women and girls.
She once said: “I am an African woman who writes about Africa because I am an African woman.”
Political and Educational Roles
Aidoo was also a prominent figure in the Ghanaian political and educational spheres.
She served as the Minister of Education under the Provisional National Defence Council government from 1982 to 1983.
Aidoo also taught at various universities in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Germany and the United States.
She founded the Mbaasem Foundation in 2000 to support and promote African women writers.
Awards and Honors
Aidoo received numerous awards and honors for her literary contributions, such as the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book (Africa) in 1992 for her novel Changes: A Love Story, the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 2000 and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the African Studies Association of the UK in 2014.
Ama Ata Aidoo cause of death
According to her family and various sources, Ama Ata Aidoo died peacefully at home after a short illness.
The exact cause of her death has not been officially announced.
Ama Ata Aidoo Legacy
Aidoo is survived by her daughter Kinna Likimani and her grandchildren.
She will be remembered as a trailblazer, a visionary and a mentor for generations of African writers and readers.
Ama Ata Aidoo video
If you want to learn more about Ama Ata Aidoo and her works, you can watch some videos that feature her interviews, speeches and performances.
Here are some examples of videos that you can find online.
Ama Ata Aidoo on feminism in Africa – BBC HARDtalk
In this video, Aidoo talks to Zeinab Badawi about what it means to be a feminist in Africa and speaks about the importance of giving agency to African women.
ANOWA BY AMA ATA AIDOO – WITH SUBTITLES
In this video, you can watch a performance of Aidoo’s play Anowa, which tells the story of a rebellious woman who marries a slave trader and suffers the consequences.
Ama Ata Aidoo (Everything You Are Is Us)
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