Lens on Ghanaian Literary Giant Ama Ata Aidoo: Changing The Black Girl’s Narrative One Page At A Time

by Duchess Magazine
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Ama Ata Aidoo

Proud author, feminist, and former Education Minister, Professor Ama Ata Aidoo stands unapologetically as a crusader of the rights of the female gender, with eyes set on empowering her own, through her works she glaringly paints women protagonists defying the odds.

Her novel “Changes” won the 1992 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book (Africa), while her poetry collection “Someone Talking to Sometime” won the Nelson Mandela Prize for Poetry in 1987. Between 1982 and 1983.

In 1982, Ama was appointed Minister of Education but resigned after 18 months after not been able to meet up to her target to provide free education for all.

Not one to climb the success ladder alone, in 2000, in view of paving way and empowering others, she founded the Mbaasem Foundation, Ghana, a non-governmental organization that aims to build and develop the talents of African women.

Born 23 March 1942 in Saltpond in the Central Region of Ghana, Ama Ata Aidoo obtained the degree of Bachelor of Arts from the University of Ghana, Legon where she studied English. In 1964, she wrote her first play, The Dilemma of a Ghost, upon publication by Longman the following year, Aidoo became the first published African woman dramatist.

Ama Ata Aidoo’s dedication and passion over the years has seen her rise through the ranks: worked in the United States, where she held a fellowship in creative writing at Stanford University, California, served as a research fellow at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, worked as a lecturer in English at the University of Cape Coast, before rising to the position of professor.

Aidoo taught various English courses at Hamilton College in Clinton New York, in the early-mid-1990s, before recently at Africana Studies Department at Brown University.

Aidoo a patron of the Etisalat Prize for Literature was honored with a Fulbright Scholarship award in 1988. She is also a proud recipient of 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.

Education: University of Ghana, B.A. (with honors), 1964; attended Harvard International Seminar and Stanford University, 1966.

Some of her work include:
The Dilemma of a Ghost (play; first produced in Legon, Ghana, at Open Air Theatre, March 1964; produced in Pittsburgh, PA, 1988), Longmans, Green (London, England), 1965, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1971.

The 79-year-old renowned writer has lived in the United States, Britain, Germany, and Zimbabwe.

“Time by itself means nothing, no matter how fast it moves, unless we give it something to carry for us; something we value. Because it is such a precious vehicle, is time” – Professor Ama Ata Aidoo.


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