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Prof Ama Ata Aidoo’s state funeral witnessed moving tributes

Prof Ama Ata Aidoo’s state funeral witnessed moving tributes

The body of the late Professor Ama Ata Aidoo, a renowned author, poet and playwright was laid in state at the State House, Accra.

Ghanaians paid their last respect to the celebrated educationist, Pan-Africanist, gender activist whose illustrious career spanned over five decades.

She died on May 31, this year, at age 81.

The state funeral was attended by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, 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 her family.

President Nana Akufo-Addo, said: “Through her work, she made tremendous contribution to the development of our country and continent.”

He bemoaned that the community of writers has lost one of its greatest members who will be extremely difficult to replace.

He eulogized the late Prof. Aidoo saying she had an outstanding career, personifying the nation’s values and Pan-Africanism.

According to President Nana Akufo-Addo Ghana will forever be grateful to the deceased for her commitment to the cause of the vulnerable and marginalised in society.

He noted that that Prof. Aidoo’s advocacy campaigns for women’s education and empowerment, democratic rule, good governance, and Ghana’s economic prosperity could not be glossed over.

He paid tribute to the iconic writer and extended the nation’s condolences to the bereaved family.

Preaching the sermon, Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church Ghana (MCG), Most Reverend Dr. Kwabena Boafo, eulogised the late Prof. Aidoo for her courage, honesty and integrity.

He described her as someone who spoke truth to power.

Professor Ama Ata Aidoo is a Ghanaian author, playwright, and an accomplished poet. She is also the author of a number of children’s books.

She attended the Wesley Girls’ High School and received her bachelor of arts in English from the University of Ghana, where she wrote her first play, The Dilemma of a Ghost, in 1964.

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.

Her works of fiction particularly deal with the tension between Western and African world views.

Many of her protagonists are women who defy the stereotypical women’s roles of their time.

Between 1964 and 1966 Ama was a Junior Research Fellow at the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana.

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.

In 1974, she became a consulting professor to the Phelps-Stokes Fund’s Ethnic Studies Programme and was a fellow in Creative Writing at Stanford University.

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”.

She also served as a Research Fellow at the Institute of African Studies, and has taught at the English Departments of the Universities of Ghana and Cape Coast, and at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York.

She has served as a Visiting Professor in the African Studies Department at Brown University, USA.

From 1982 to 1983, Aidoo was appointed the Minister of Education, but because of her radical views, she was forced out of the position.

Over the decades of her career, she published several novels, plays, short stories, children’s books, and poetry, and influenced generations of African women writers.

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.

In 2000, Aidoo established Mbaasem, a foundation dedicated to promoting the work of Ghanaian and African women writers.

Her works include Dilemma of A Ghost, Our Sister Kill Joy, The Girl Who Can, and Changes, which won the 1992 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book (Africa).

Her other works are Diplomatic Pounds and Other Stories and An Angry Letter in January and other poems.

Her latest work is After the Ceremonies: New and Selected Poems.

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.

Prof Ama Ata Aidoo won many literary awards, including the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book (Africa) for her second novel, “Changes: A Love Story”.

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