President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has paid a glowing tribute to the iconic writer, the late Professor Ama Ata Aidoo, and extended the nation’s condolences to the bereaved family.
He described her as someone who contributed tremendously to the development of Ghana and the continent. “The community of writers has lost one of its greatest members, one, who will be extremely difficult to replace. The late Prof. Aidoo had an outstanding career, personifying the nation’s values and Pan-Africanism,” the President noted.
The President said this when the mortal remains of the late Professor Ama Ata Aidoo was laid in state yesterday at the State House, Accra, as Ghanaians paid their last respect to the celebrated playwright and author.
The state-organised funeral had in attendance former President John Dramani Mahama, members of the Diplomatic Corps, Ministers of State, academicians, technocrats, writers, and other dignitaries.
The state funeral had several wreaths laid by various personalities, institutions, and organisations in honour of one of Ghana’s most dedicated writers of all time. Wreaths were laid on behalf of the President and people of Ghana, traditional authorities, the Church, academicians, the Ghana Association of Writers, the National Theatre and the family.
President Akufo-Addo said Ghana will forever be grateful to the deceased for her commitment to the cause of the vulnerable and marginalised in society.
He stated that her advocacy campaigns for women’s education and empowerment, democratic rule, good governance, and Ghana’s economic prosperity could not be glossed over. “Education, for her, provided the fastest route out of poverty,” the President stated
The Most Reverend Dr. Kwabena Boafo, Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church Ghana (MCG), in a sermon, eulogised the late Prof. Aidoo for her courage, honesty and integrity. The Presiding Bishop noted “she was someone who spoke truth to power”.
Ama Atta Aidoo
The renowned playwright and author, also an educationist, Pan-Africanist, gender activist and poet, died on May 31, this year, at age 81. Over the decades of her career, the iconic writer published several novels, plays, short stories, children’s books, and poetry, and influenced generations of African women writers. She won many literary awards, including the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book (Africa) for her second novel, “Changes: A Love Story”.
The late Prof. Aidoo attended the Wesley Girls’ High School in Cape Coast, and proceeded to the University of Ghana, Legon. Before graduating in 1964, Aidoo took classes with Efua Sutherland, a famous Ghanaian dramatist with an interest in folklore, and began writing in English, though her first language was Fanti, using traditional forms. After graduation, Aidoo spent two years (1964-66) as a junior research fellow at her alma mater, and wrote her first drama, “The Dilemma of a Ghost”, there.
Aidoo left Ghana for two years, 1967 to 1969, to the United States (US) for a creative writing fellowship at Stanford University, and while there, she began work on another play, “Anowa” (1970). When she returned to Ghana, she started teaching English at the University of Cape Coast, beginning in 1970. While focusing on teaching, she also continued to write.
Aidoo published her first novel in 1977, “Our Sister Killjoy” or “Reflections from a Black-Eye Squint”. Combining verse with prose, the novel was regarded as innovative. She did not publish anything major for eight years when she ventured into politics. From 1982 to 1983, Aidoo was appointed the Minister of Education, but because of her radical views, she was forced out of the position. In 1985, she published her first collection of poems, “Someone Talking to Sometime”.
She published other collections of short stories, poems, and children’s literature throughout the 1990s. While Aidoo continued to write, she was also occasionally a writer-in-residence and held visiting professorships in the United States while lecturing and making other appearances throughout the world.