Ama Ata Aidoo: Contribution as Ghanaian Author

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      Ama Ata Aidoo (Christina) Ghanaian playwright, novelist, short-story writer and poet, born in 1942 at the Fanti-speaking region of Central Ghana. She studied and later taught at the University of Ghana, was Minister for Education in the Ghanaian government in the 1980s, and has also lived and taught in Zimbabwe and the United States. While at the University of Ghana in 1964 she produced her first play, Dilemma of a Ghost, which dramatizes a young African-American woman's search for a homeland and the conflict between her western individualism and an African emphasis on community and family. Aidoo's second play; Anowa (1969), takes up similar issues in a 19th-century Ghanaian setting and in terms of the conflict between a young African woman's desire for romance and equality and her husband's quest for status and wealth. Both plays focus on women who desire to be sisters and comrades, and both set that female desire for equality and comradeship in the context of slavery and inequalities of wealth and class. Aidoo's drama and fictions draw on an innovative mixture of African and European (especially Brechtian) techniques in their use of dialogue, chorus, music and oral story-telling. Aidoo is now better known in Europe and North America for her fiction.

      Her collection of short stories, No Sweetness Here (1970), is remarkable for the variety of its styles, techniques and narrative voices, frequently of rural men and women whose lives have been disrupted by colonization, war and racism. Her experimental novel, Our Sister Killjoy: Confessions of a Black-Eyed Squint (1977), explores the ways in which language, western education and the glamour of material goods from the West seduce the younger generation of Ghanaians. Aidoo's fiction engages with issues which are crucially important to the health and identity of the emerging Ghanaian nation, but they do so with a lively humor, compassion and subtlety unusual in writing from Ghana. In the 1980s and 1990s, Aidoo published two collections of poems, Someone Talking to Sometime (1985) and An Angry Letter in January (1992), and a number of children's books. Yet another change in style and direction was signaled by a romance, Changes (1991), awarded the 1992 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book (Africa), which explores the dilemmas of contemporary urban professional women in Ghana.

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