Two African Greatest writers: Professor Ama Ata Aidoo (over 70 years), Ghanaian author, poet, playwright and academic, who is also a former Minister of Education in the Ghana government and the editor of the anthology African Love Stories and Nigeria`s Professor Akinwande Oluwole "Wole" Soyinka, playwright and poet. He was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature, the first African to be so honored. These two were together at an event in Accra, 9th July celebrating Soyinka`s 80th year.
Ama Ata Aidoo perceives herself as a teacher, first and foremost, and like to teach her students about other African women writers. "I have been teaching Mariama Bâ (So Long a Letter), Bessie Head (A Question of Power), Buchi Emecheta (Joys of Motherhood) -which is a must-and, although she is not by nationality an African, I’ve always taught Marise Condé (Segú). In drama, I wouldn’t even move one inch without teaching Efua Sutherland, especially 'The Marriage of Anansewa." I always teach Nawal El Saadawi and there are a whole lot of other women (Frias 1998: 18-19).
Though venerated in Europe and the USA as the foremost African feminist-a fact that she somewhat resents and long immersed in gender issues-both at a personal, political, and literary level- Aidoo still questions artificial critical constructions. Her women, though, following the principles of the Akan society she comes from, are strong, hard-working, independent, articulate, and smart, thus, deconstructing the stereotypical image of the submissive, passive, and battered African woman. Aidoo herself takes pains to explain the reasons for portraying these provocative female protagonists: People say to me: “Your women characters seem to be stronger than we are used to when thinking about African women”. As far as I am concerned these are the African women among whom I was brought up. In terms of women standing on their own feet, within or outside marriage, mostly from inside marriage, living life on their own terms. (Wilson-Tagoe, 200: 248).
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. In "Our Sister Killjoy", Aidoo is concerned mostly with the estrangement of the African educated class. Sissy, the main character, is offered a grant to receive a European
education. Her journey into the west chronicles different aspects of her resistance to the overriding ideological hostilities that bring down Africa and African people.The novel is divided into four parts. “Into a Bad Dream” relates Sissie’s travel experience to Germany. She is secure in her racial background, and only progressively over the itineraries of her ‘westbound mobility’ does she
become conscious of her colour complexion. In “The Plums,” Sissie discovers Marija, a new German friend. Marija is entangled in boredom and immediately gets caught within the exotic Other ‘the black-eyed squint’ student stands for. In the course of their friendship, Sissie finds out Marija’s perverted behaviors, rejects her lesbianism and leaves her in frustration and total disillusionment. In “From Our Sister Killjoy,” Sissie moves to London, the colonial capital which brings back into her
mind the whole tale about the British colonial experience in Ghana. She appears to be extremely disappointed at the tragic social reality and marginalization of black African immigrants. In the epistolary section on a “Love Letter”, Sissie is engaged in a mock-conversation with a lover, using an extremely sarcastic style to assert her identity through the experiences she went through.
Raised in, respectful towards, and proud of her African oral tradition and the ancient story-telling, Aidoo’s forte is in her dialogues. Aidoo invests her female characters with the powerful tool of speech. Her African women make use of words as weapons to the extent that they can easily and intelligently fustigate men’s egos and beat them dialectically /metaphorically, at the same time gaining the respect of the other sisters in the community.
BY: Kweku Darko Ankrah