Ama Ata Aidoo

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Ama Ata Aidoo
Born Christina Ama Aidoo
(1942-03-23) 23 March 1942 (age 76)
Saltpond, Ghana
Occupation Author, playwright, professor
Nationality Ghanaian
Genre Drama, fiction
Subject Comparative literature, postcolonial literature
Notable awards Commonwealth Writers Prize
1992

Ama Ata Aidoo, née Christina Ama Aidoo (born 23 March 1942) is a Ghanaian author, poet, playwright and academic. She was also a Minister of Education in Ghana under the then Jerry Rawlings"s ( Fourth President of Ghana) .administration. She currently lives in Ghana, where in the year 2000 she established the Mbaasem Foundation to promote and support the work of African women writers.[1][2]

Life[edit]

Born in Saltpond in Ghana's Central Region, Ghana, she grew up in a Fante royal household, the daughter of Nana Yaw Fama, chief of Abeadzi Kyiakor, and Maame Abasema since her father was a king it automatically makes her a princess [3]. Aidoo was sent by her father to Wesley Girls' Senior High School in Cape Coast,[1] 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.[4] The play was published by Longman the following year, making Aidoo the first published African woman dramatist.[5]

Ama Ata Aidoo is Ghanaian playwright and former Education Minister of Ghana. She has portrayed the role of African woman in the contemporary society. She has opined that the idea of nationalism has been deployed by recent leaders as a means of keeping people oppressed. She has criticized those literate Africans who profess to love their country but are seduced away by the benefits of the developed word. She believes in a distinct African identity, which she views from a female perspective.[6]

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.[7] 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. In London in 1986 she delivered the Walter Rodney Visions of Africa lecture organised by the support group for Bogle-L'Ouverture publishing house.[8] 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.[9]

Film[edit]

She is the subject of a 2014 documentary film, The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo, made by Yaba Badoe.[10][11][12][13]

Writings[edit]

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[14]—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.[15]

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",[2] which she runs together with her daughter Kinna Likimani[16] and a board of management.[17]

Aidoo is the editor of the 2006 anthology African Love Stories.[18]

Awards and recognition[edit]

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.[19]

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[20] — the first centre of its kind in West Africa, with Nii Ayikwei Parkes as its director.[21][22]

Selected works[edit]

  • 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.

As editor[edit]

  • African Love Stories – an anthology,[23] Ayebia Clarke Publishing, 2006.

Further reading[edit]

  • 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>>

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Liukkonen, Petri. "Ama Ata Aidoo". Books and Writers (Authors Calendar). Finland. 
  2. ^ a b "Welcome to Mbaasem", Mbaasem Foundation.
  3. ^ "Ama Ata Aidoo Facts". biography.dictionary.com. 
  4. ^ "Ama Ata Aidoo", Encyclopædia Britannica.
  5. ^ Naana Banyiwa Horne, "Aidoo, Ama Ata", Who's Who in Contemporary Women's Writing, 2001, Routledge.
  6. ^ www.lesideesnet.com, Les Idées Net -. "African Success : Biography of Ama ATa AIDOO". www.africansuccess.org. Retrieved 2018-05-24. 
  7. ^ "Ama Ata Aidoo", BBC World Service.
  8. ^ "Friends of Bogle", (London Metropolitan Archives), Aim 25, Archives in London and the M25 area.
  9. ^ Patrons, Etisalat Prize for Literature.
  10. ^ "The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo".
  11. ^ Beti Ellerson, "Yaba Badoe talks about the documentary film project 'The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo'", African Women in Cinema, December 2013.
  12. ^ Shakira Chambas and Sionne Neely, "The Art of AMA ATA AIDOO: Documentary Film Launch", African Women’s Development Fund, 26 September 2014.
  13. ^ "The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo - a film by Yaba Badoe", official website.
  14. ^ Ama Ata Aidoo biography, Heinemann/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  15. ^ "Table of Contents: Sisterhood is global". Catalog.vsc.edu. Anchor Press/Doubleday. Retrieved 15 October 2015. 
  16. ^ " Ghana international Book fair - Kinna Likimani", YouTube, 2010.
  17. ^ "Management and Board", Mbaasem Foundation.
  18. ^ "Yaba Badoe's African Love Story, 'The Rival'", Buried in Print, 16 November 2011.
  19. ^ "Aidoo-Snyder Book Prize By-Laws", ASA Women's Caucus.
  20. ^ "AUCC Launches Ama Ata Aidoo Centre for Creative Writing", Modern Ghana, 15 March 2017.
  21. ^ "Ama Ata Aidoo Centre for Creative Writing opens in Accra, Ghana", James Murua Blog, 22 March 2017.
  22. ^ Kwamina Tandoh/Winifred Zuur, "Ama Ata Aidoo Centre for Creative Writing inaugurated", Ghana News Agency, 16 March 2017.
  23. ^ African Love Stories – an anthology, Ayebia.

External links[edit]