Ama Ata Aidoo

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Aidoo was born Christina Ama Aidoo on March 23, 1940, in Abeadzi Kyiakor, what was then called the Gold Coast (later known as Ghana). She was the daughter of Nana Yaw Fama and his wife Maame Abba Abasema. Her father was a chief of Abeadzi Kyiakor (located in south central Ghana) and raised as royalty. Though women were not often educated at the time, Aidoo's father believed that for the good of Africa, both women and men should be well-educated. She attended Wesley Girls High School in Cape Coast, Ghana. By the age of fifteen, Aidoo wanted to be a writer. Aidoo later entered the University of Ghana in Legon. Before graduating in 1964, Aidoo took classes with Efua Sutherland, a famous Ghanian dramatist with an interest in folklore. Aidoo began writing in English, though her first language is Fanti, using traditional forms.

After graduation, Aidoo spent two years (1964-66) as a junior research fellow at her alma mater. It was here that she wrote her first drama, The Dilemma of a Ghost. Focusing on an African-American woman who has come to her new husband's homeland and the cultural problems that ensue, the play was performed at the University of Ghana in 1964 and published in 1965 to mixed reviews. Aidoo left Ghana for two years, 1967 to 1969, to go to the United States for a creative writing fellowship at Stanford University. While there, Aidoo began work on another play, Anowa (1970). This play also focused on the problems of a woman, the title character.

When Aidoo returned to Ghana, she began to teach English at the University of Cape Coast, beginning in 1970. While focusing on teaching, Aidoo also continued to write. That year she published a short story collection, No Sweetness Here. The collection included stories she had written as early as her days as a student. Aidoo published her first novel in 1977, Our Sister Killjoy: or, Reflections from a Black-Eye Squint. Combining verse with prose, the novel was regarded as innovative. Aidoo would not publish anything major for eight years. One reason for this break in her writing career was politics. From 1982 to 1983, Aidoo took a post in the Ghanaian government headed by Jerry Rawlings. She was the minister of education. However, because of her radical views, Aidoo was forced out of the position and her native country. With her daughter Kinni Likimani, Aidoo moved to Zimbabwe, which became her primary residence.

Soon after the move, Aidoo resumed publishing. In 1985, she published her first collection of poems, Someone Talking to Sometime. She would publish other collections of short stories, poems, and children's literature throughout the 1990s. Her second major novel, Changes: A Love Story (1991), shared thematic concerns with Anowa, though it was set in contemporary times. While Aidoo continued to write, she also occasionally was a writer-in-residence and held visiting professorships in the United States while lecturing and making other appearances throughout the world.

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