Ama Ata Aidoo, one of Africa’s most prominent authors, playwrights, and feminists, has passed away due to a brief illness, as announced by her family on Wednesday, May 31, 2023. Throughout her career, Aidoo gained recognition for her exceptional literary contributions and activism. Her family issued a statement expressing their grief over the loss of their beloved relative and writer while requesting privacy during this difficult time.
Professor Aidoo’s literary works, including “The Dilemma of a Ghost,” “Our Sister Killjoy,” and “Changes,” celebrated African women’s experiences and challenged the Western perception that cast African women as downtrodden. Her works advocated for their empowerment and agency, and she gained recognition for her portrayal of the African woman’s experience.
In the early 1980s, Professor Aidoo served as Ghana’s Minister of Education, where she resigned from the position when she could not fulfill her vision of making education accessible to all Ghanaians free of charge. Her career extended beyond her literary achievements, and she was known for exploring the dichotomy between Western and African worldviews in her fiction.
Professor Aidoo received numerous literary accolades throughout her career, including the prestigious Commonwealth Writers Prize in 1992 for her novel “Changes,” a poignant love story about a statistician who divorces her first husband and enters into a polygamous marriage. Her works, including plays like “Anowa,” have been widely read in schools across West Africa,alongside the works of other literary giants such as Wole Soyinka and Chinua Achebe.
Professor Aidoo’s impactful criticism of colonialism and the continued exploitation of Africa’s resources resonated with Nigerian Afrobeats superstar Burna Boy, who featured her powerful words in his 2020 song “Monsters You Made.”
Born in 1942 in a village in Ghana’s central Fanti-speaking region, Ama Ata Aidoo was deeply influenced by her father, who had established the village’s first school. At the age of 15, she set her sights on becoming a writer and remarkably achieved her ambition within four years after receiving encouragement to enter a writing competition. She went on to study literature at the University of Ghana and subsequently became a lecturer, publishing her first play in 1964.
The passing of Professor Aidoo is a great loss to the African literary community and the world at large. Her contributions to African literature and feminism have left an indelible mark on the literary landscape. Her works continue to inspire and empower generations of African women and writers, and her legacy will undoubtedly endure.