One of Africa’s most prominent authors, playwrights, and feminists, Ama Ata Aidoo, has passed away, as announced by her family in the early hours of Wednesday, May 31, 2023.
The respected writer, known for her exceptional literary contributions and activism, died of a brief illness.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, her family expressed their grief over the loss of their beloved relative and writer, while also appealing for privacy during this difficult time.
Throughout her career, Professor Aidoo gained recognition for her portrayal and celebration of African women's experiences in her works, including notable titles such as "The Dilemma of a Ghost," "Our Sister Killjoy," and "Changes." She vehemently challenged the Western perception that cast African women as downtrodden, advocating for their empowerment and agency.
Professor Aidoo's influence extended beyond her literary achievements. In the early 1980s, she served as the Minister of Education; however, she resigned from the position when she could not fulfill her vision of making education accessible to all Ghanaians free of charge.
Known for exploring the dichotomy between Western and African worldviews in her fiction, Professor Aidoo, who also served as a university professor, received numerous literary accolades throughout her career.
Notably, she was awarded 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.