Literary Zone

Poetry: After a Commonwealth Conference

11 June 2013 at 00:36 | 2889 views

After a Commonwealth Conference

By Ama Ata Aidoo, Ghana.


you are here
to remind me to be grateful to
- it must be The Lord –
for small mercies,

I shall not
shave my hair or
do another fasting trip at the dawn of a
day that has put more bile on my tongue.

But Child,
out there where
our thousands are dying and
our millions
do not have food to
choose to eat or

how does one tell the story of men
who are nothing at all, and
leaders who are only
skilled in the art of anti-people treachery?

I hear you: and since
does not always grow with our grey hairs,

may be,
you can tell me
what to do with
my shame, and

Our Continent once more

About Ama Ata Aidoo

Professor Ama Ata Aidoo, née Christina Ama Aidoo (born 23 March 1940, Saltpond) is a Ghanaian author, playwright and academic.

Born in Saltpond in Ghana’s Central Region, she grew up in a Fante royal household, the daughter of Nana Yaw Fama, chief of Abeadzi Kyiakor, and Maame Abasema. Aidoo was sent by her father to Wesley Girls’ High School in Cape Coast from 1961 to 1964. The headmistress of Wesley Girls’ bought her her first typewriter. After leaving high school, she enrolled at the University of Ghana in Legon and received her Bachelor of Arts in English as well as writing her first play, The Dilemma of a Ghost, in 1964. The play was published by Longman the following year, making Aidoo the first published African woman dramatist.

She worked in the United States of America where she held a fellowship in creative writing at Stanford University. She also served as a research fellow at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, and as a Lecturer in English at the University of Cape Coast, eventually rising there to the position of Professor.

Aside from her literary career, Aidoo was appointed Minister of Education under the Provisional National Defence Council in 1982. She resigned after 18 months. She has also spent a great deal of time teaching and living abroad for months at a time. She has lived in America, Britain, Germany, and Zimbabwe. She is currently a Visiting Professor in the Africana Studies Department at Brown University.

Aidoo’s works of fiction particularly deal with the tension between Western and African world views. Her first novel, Our Sister Killjoy, was published in 1977 and remains one of her most popular works. Many of Aidoo’s protagonists are women who defy the stereotypical women’s roles of their time. Her novel Changes, won the 1992 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book (Africa). She is also an accomplished poet, and has written several children’s books.

Click on the clip below to watch a Border Crossings interview with Ama Ata Aidoo: