Ama Ata Aidoo

Ama Ata Aidoo

Poet, novelist, critic, and a story writer, the Ghanian Ama Ata Aidoo is considered to be one of Africa´s greatest authors. Her innovative style and her defence of women´s position in the continent permeate her works.

Christina Ama Aidoo Saltpond was born  in Ghana in 1942. Her childhood took place in a mixed atmosphere between Western education and a strong awareness of African traditions. The director of her school (Wesley Girls High School) in Cope Coast bought Aidoo her first typewriter. After completing her secondary education, she enrolled in English at the University of Ghana, in Legon, when her first work titled The Dilemma of a Ghost (1964) came to light.

After graduating, Aidoo earned several scholarships, such as that of Creative Writing from Stanford University (California), allowing her to spend two years abroad before returning to Ghana in 1969 to teach English at the University. In her native country, Aidoo worked as a teacher for some time, and during a brief period (1982) as the Minister of Education.  However, because her opinions were considered too radical for the regime, she was forced to resign and leave the country. Since then, she has lived in Harare, Zimbabwe, and in the United States.

However, her ability as a writer did not waver. In 1987, she received the Nelson Mandela Poetry Award for Someone Talking to Sometime; and in 1992, she was awarded the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Africa for her book Changes: A love story (1991). In 1992, she was the first recipient of UNESCO´s International PEN Women's Committee Travel Fellowship, and in 1998, she was elected President of the African Visions Literature Tour. One year later, she received Ghana´s highest civil honour: Companion of the Star of Volta.

All of her works display a theme focused on women and their role in society. For the writer, freedom in Africa is directly linked to the freedom of women. For this reason, many of her characters challenge the stereotypical role of women. A good example of this is her work titled Anowa (1970), in which she rewrites an old Ghanian legend about a girl who wants to marry against her parents´ wishes. However, Anowa´s determination in making her own decisions bring tragic consequences. This theme is noted through a literary activity that includes, among others, attractive titles such as No Sweetness Here: A Collection of Short Stories (1970),  Birds and Other Poems (1988) or The Girl Who Can and Other Stories (1997).

Sources: Wikipedia and www.kirjasto.sci.fi

 

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