Celebrated Ghanaian author and playwright, Ama Ata Aidoo, has died aged 81, her family said on Wednesday.
In a statement, her family said “our beloved relative and writer” passed away after a short illness, requesting privacy to allow them to grieve.
The renowned feminist was one of Africa’s famous authors whose works focused on African women.
Ama Ata Aidoo was also a vocal voice against what she called the “Western perception that the African female is a downtrodden wretch”.
Mama, Ama Ata Aidoo, has joined the ancestors. She was my literary mother. She embraced me, taught me and always had the right words. Mama was a towering literary figure and feminist. We send love and strength to @kinnareads, the Ghanaian people, and the literary community. pic.twitter.com/glF9gAHzss
— Lọlá Shónẹ́yìn (@lolashoneyin) May 31, 2023
She served as education minister in the early 1980s but resigned when she could not make education free.
As a university professor, Ata Aidoo won many literary awards for her novels, plays and poems, including the 1992 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Changes, a love story about a statistician who divorces her first husband and enters into a polygamist marriage.
Her work, including plays like Anowa, have been read in schools across West Africa, along with works of other greats like Wole Soyinka and Chinua Achebe.
At the age of 15 Aidoo decided that she wanted to be a writer and had achieved that ambition in four years after she was encouraged to enter a competition.
“I won a short story competition but learned about it only when I opened the newspaper that had organised it, and saw the story had been published on its centre pages and realised the name of the author of that story in print was mine,” Ata Aidoo once said as she looked back at her career.
“I believe these moments were crucial for me because … I had articulated a dream… it was a major affirmation for me as a writer, to see my name in print.”
On her passing,we celebrate the life and legacy of Prof. Ama Ata Aidoo, writer, poet activist and great supporter of the Writers Project of Ghana from the very start. While we mourn her passing, we also celebrate her work and support for writers, women and the literary space.
— Writers Project Gh (@writersPG) May 31, 2023
She went on to study literature at the University of Ghana and became a lecturer, publishing her first play in 1964.
After her 18 month-foray into politics she went into self-imposed exile in Zimbabwe for a time and became a full-time writer.