Ama Ata Aidoo
|Ama Ata Aidoo|
23 March 1942 |
|Occupation||Author, playwright, professor|
|Subject||Comparative literature, postcolonial literature|
|Notable awards||Commonwealth Writers Prize
Ama Ata Aidoo, née Christina Ama Aidoo (born 23 March 1942, Saltpond) is a Ghanaian author, poet, playwright and academic. She was also a Minister of Education in Ghana under the Jerry Rawlings administration. She currently lives in Ghana, where in 2000 she established the Mbaasem Foundation to promote and support the work of African women writers.
Born in Saltpond in Ghana's Central Region, she grew up in a Fante royal household, the daughter of Nana Yaw Fama, chief of Abeadzi Kyiakor, and Maame Abasema. Aidoo was sent by her father to Wesley Girls' High School in Cape Coast, 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. The play was published by Longman the following year, making Aidoo the first published African woman dramatist.
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. She has also spent a great deal of time teaching and living abroad for months at a time. She has lived in America, Britain, Germany, and Zimbabwe. 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, Kole Omotoso, Margaret Busby and Zakes Mda), created in 2013 as a platform for African writers of debut books of fiction.
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—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.
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", 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.
- The Dilemma of a Ghost (play), Longman, 1965
- Anowa (a play based on a Ghanaian legend), Longman, 1970
- No Sweetness Here: A Collection of Short Stories, The Feminist Press, 1995
- 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
- Changes: a Love Story (novel), The Feminist Press, 1993
- An Angry Letter in January (poems), Dangaroo Press, 1992
- The Girl Who Can and Other Stories, Heinemann African Writers Series, 1997
- Diplomatic Pounds & Other Stories, Ayebia Clarke Publishing, 2012.
- African Love Stories – an anthology, Ayebia Clarke Publishing, 2006.
Awards and recognition
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 honor of Ama Ata Aidoo and of Margaret C. Snyder, who was the founding director of UNIFEM.
- 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.
- Liukkonen, Petri. "Ama Ata Aidoo". Books and Writers (kirjasto.sci.fi). Finland: Kuusankoski Public Library. Archived from the original on 10 February 2015.
- "Welcome to Mbaasem", Mbaasem Foundation.
- "Ama Ata Aidoo", Encyclopædia Britannica.
- Naana Banyiwa Horne, "Aidoo, Ama Ata", Who's Who in Contemporary Women's Writing, 2001, Routledge.
- "Ama Ata Aidoo", BBC World Service.
- Patrons, Etisalat Prize for Literature.
- "The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo".
- Beti Ellerson, "Yaba Badoe talks about the documentary film project 'The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo'", African Women in Cinema, December 2013.
- Ama Ata Aidoo biography, Heinemann/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
- "Table of Contents: Sisterhood is global". Catalog.vsc.edu. Anchor Press/Doubleday. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
- " Ghana international Book fair - Kinna Likimani", YouTube, 2010.
- "Management and Board", Mbaasem Foundation.
- "Yaba Badoe's African Love Story, 'The Rival'", Buried in Print, 16 November 2011.
- African Love Stories – an anthology, Ayebia.
- "Aidoo-Snyder Book Prize By-Laws", ASA Women's Caucus.
|Library resources about
Ama Ata Aidoo
|By Ama Ata Aidoo|
- Full-text, searchable works from Black Drama database.
- "AIDOO, Ama Ata", International Who's Who, accessed 1 September 2006.
- "Ama Ata Aidoo – Her Story" on BBC World Service.
- "Interview with Ama Ata Aidoo". Video interview by Michael Walling, Artistic Director of Border Crossings theatre company.
- "Ama Ata Aidoo on feminism in Africa - BBC HARDtalk", interview with Zeinab Badawi, 22 July 2014. YouTube.
- Suzanne Kamata, "A Profile of Ama Ata Aidoo", Literary Mama, February 2016.