Ama Ata Aidoo Criticism - Essay

Ebele Eko (essay date October 1986)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Eko, Ebele. “Beyond the Myth of Confrontation: A Comparative Study of African and African-American Female Protagonists.” ARIEL: A Review of International English Literature 17, no. 4 (October 1986): 139-52.

[In the following essay, Eko examines how Aidoo subverts the traditional role of the African female protagonist in Anowa, comparing the play to several works from African and African American authors.]

Times have changed since the sixties, and a new breed of black women writers in Africa and America are giving creative birth to a new breed of female protagonists. One of their deep concerns, a point which Hoyt Fuller has stressed,1 is to...

(The entire section is 5103 words.)

Chimalum Nwankwo (essay date 1986)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Nwankwo, Chimalum. “The Feminist Impulse and Social Realism in Ama Ata Aidoo's No Sweetness Here and Our Sister Killjoy.” In Ngambika: Studies of Women in African Literature, edited by Carole Boyce Davies and Anne Adams Graves, pp. 151-59. Trenton, N.J.: Africa World Press, Inc., 1986.

[In the following essay, Nwankwo explores how the reality of African feminism is portrayed in No Sweetness Here and Our Sister Killjoy.]

Feminism challenges, with justification, the secondary status of women in all societies. Some such challenges in African literature are suspiciously autobiographical and irredeemably subjective. Many are successful in...

(The entire section is 3493 words.)

Kofi Owusu (essay date spring 1990)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Owusu, Kofi. “Canons under Siege: Blackness, Femaleness, and Ama Ata Aidoo's Our Sister Killjoy.Callaloo 13, no. 2 (spring 1990): 341-63.

[In the following essay, Owusu considers the impact of racial and gender issues on Our Sister Killjoy, commenting that the novel “seems to defy easy categorization, and one soon gets the impression that it defines itself by this very fact.”]

[T]here is a Eurocentric view that the movement for women's liberation is not indigenous to Asia or Africa, but has been a purely West European and North American phenomenon, and that where movements for women's emancipation … have arisen in...

(The entire section is 10240 words.)

Gay Wilentz (essay date winter 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Wilentz, Gay. “The Politics of Exile: Ama Ata Aidoo's Our Sister Killjoy.Studies in Twentieth Century Literature 15, no. 1 (winter 1991): 159-74.

[In the following essay, Wilentz asserts that Our Sister Killjoy deconstructs traditional “prescribed theories of exile” and presents an original narrative from the perspective of a female African expatriate.]

The term “politics of exile” calls to mind those sufferers who must leave their homeland for political reasons. But there is another aspect of the politics associated with exile—that of the so-called third world colonial who seeks the benefits and opportunities in a European...

(The entire section is 5522 words.)

Gay Wilentz (essay date 1992)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Wilentz, Gay. “Ama Ata Aidoo: The Dilemma of a Ghost.” In Binding Cultures: Black Women Writers in Africa and the Diaspora, pp. 38-57. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992.

[In the following essay, Wilentz evaluates the “dilemma” of traditional African versus Western values that Aidoo constructs in The Dilemma of a Ghost.]

If you educate a man, you educate an individual. If you educate a woman, you educate a nation.1

Kwegyir Aggrey

Ama Ata Aidoo, like her sister Ghanian Efua Sutherland, has been extremely active in promoting her culture's traditions through her...

(The entire section is 8234 words.)

Ama Ata Aidoo, Rosemary Marangoly George, and Helen Scott (interview date fall 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Aidoo, Ama Ata, Rosemary Marangoly George, and Helen Scott. “A New Tail to an Old Tale: An Interview with Ama Ata Aidoo.” Novel: A Forum on Fiction 26, no. 3 (spring 1993): 297-308.

[In the following interview, originally conducted in Fall 1991, Aidoo discusses her role as an African writer, African immigration to the West, and elements of feminism in her work.]


Ama Ata Aidoo is an internationally recognized and acclaimed literary and intellectual figure. She has published many plays, novels, collections of short stories and poems since her first play The Dilemma of a Ghost in 19651. She was born in...

(The entire section is 5823 words.)

Ama Ata Aidoo and Anuradha Dingwaney Needham (interview date 29 January 1992)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Aidoo, Ama Ata, and Anuradha Dingwaney Needham. “An Interview with Ama Ata Aidoo.” Massachusetts Review 36, no. 1 (spring 1995): 123-33.

[In the following interview, originally conducted on January 29, 1992, Aidoo discusses her feminist perspective, African nationalism, and the portrayal of African immigrants in her work.]

Ama Ata Aidoo has occupied, and continues to occupy, many roles: former Minister of Education for Ghana, University Teacher, Critic, Writer of poetry, plays, novels and short stories. The brutal legacy of European colonialism in Africa, a gender politics that marginalizes women and locks them into unacceptable traditional roles, the...

(The entire section is 4480 words.)

Susan Gardner (review date November 1994)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Gardner, Susan. “Culture Clashes.” Women's Review of Books 12, no. 2 (November 1994): 22-3.

[In the following review, Gardner compares and contrasts Changes: A Love Story with Nigerian author Buchi Emecheta's Kehinde.]

Ama Ata Aidoo and Buchi Emecheta, despite their different nationalities (Aidoo is from Ghana, Emecheta from Nigeria) have much in common. Emecheta, born in 1946, divorced, has four living children; Aidoo, a few years older, widowed with one daughter. Both are among the first African women writers to publish in English and gain a worldwide audience. Each lives in exile—Emecheta in London and Aidoo in Zimbabwe. Emecheta's exile is...

(The entire section is 2360 words.)

Clayton G. MacKenzie (essay date spring 1995)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: MacKenzie, Clayton G. “The Discourse of Sweetness in Ama Ata Aidoo's No Sweetness Here.Studies in Short Fiction 32, no. 2 (spring 1995): 161-70.

[In the following essay, MacKenzie examines Aidoo's generally optimistic portrayal of postcolonial African culture in No Sweetness Here, arguing that the collection employs “a narrative technique of closely juxtaposed binary oppositions that attest to glimmers of benignity in the midst of social decay.”]

In “For Whom Things Did Not Change,” the second story in Ama Ata Aidoo's collection No Sweetness Here, a young man recounts the tale of a bad yam. In it he tells how Nanaa cuts a...

(The entire section is 4475 words.)

Ranu Samantrai (essay date summer 1995)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Samantrai, Ranu. “Caught at the Confluence of History: Ama Ata Aidoo's Necessary Nationalism.” Research in African Literatures 26, no. 2 (summer 1995): 140-57.

[In the following essay, Samantrai asserts that African nationalism is a major recurring motif in Aidoo's oeuvre, noting that works such as Our Sister Killjoy function as “example[s] of how a non-racialist, non-foundational African identity might lead to Pan-African solidarity.”]


Is it possible to generate Pan-Africanist nationalism from a non-racialist impulse? This is the strategy for Pan-African solidarity advocated by Anthony...

(The entire section is 9154 words.)

C. L. Innes (essay date 1995)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Innes, C. L. “Conspicuous Consumption: Corruption and the Body Politic in the Writing of Ayi Kewi Armah and Ama Ata Aidoo.” In Essays on African Writing, edited by Abdulrazak Gurnah, pp. 1-18. Nigeria: Heinemann Educational Publishers, 1995.

[In the following essay, Innes discusses how political and cultural corruption relates to and influences the work of Aidoo and Ghanaian author Ayi Kewi Armah.]

At the close of A Man of the People, Chinua Achebe's novel depicting the rise and fall of a corrupt Nigerian politician, the narrator, Odili, declares:

For I do honestly believe that in the fat-dripping, gummy,...

(The entire section is 7372 words.)

Fawzia Afzal-Khan (review date winter 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Afzal-Khan, Fawzia. Review of No Sweetness Here and Other Stories, by Ama Ata Aidoo. World Literature Today 71, no. 1 (winter 1997): 205-06.

[In the following review, Afzal-Khan comments on No Sweetness Here on the occasion of its reprinting over twenty-five years after its original publication.]

The republishing of this 1970 collection of short stories by one of Africa's leading ladies of letters is indeed a welcome event for all readers of African fiction, but especially for teachers eager to include works by African women in a variety of courses. As Ketu Katrak points out in a readable and informative afterword, “One key manifestation of...

(The entire section is 772 words.)

Pamela J. Olubunmi Smith (review date spring 2000)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Smith, Pamela J. Olubunmi. Review of The Girl Who Can and Other Stories, by Ama Ata Aidoo. World Literature Today 74, no. 2 (spring 2000): 342.

[In the following review, Smith praises the stories in The Girl Who Can and Other Stories, complimenting Aidoo's examination of gender disparity in postcolonial Africa.]

Writing in several genres—drama, the novel, poetry, the short story—Ama Ata Aidoo, Ghana's leading female writer, has secured a place for herself in the Ghanaian literary canon. Here is a voice to be reckoned with, not only as a modern African creative writer but also as an African female/feminist writer. Indeed, her voice, like that...

(The entire section is 562 words.)

Assimina Karavanta (essay date December 2001)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Karavanta, Assimina. “Rethinking the Specter: Ama Ata Aidoo's Anowa.Mosaic 34, no. 4 (December 2001): 107-22.

[In the following essay, Karavanta discusses Anowa from a global perspective, commenting that the play's most significant attribute is “the multiple voices that it engages in addressing the problematic of colonialism and the beginning of the flow of white capital in the region of the Gold Coast.”]

Il faut parler du fantôme, voire au fantôme et avec lui, des lors qu'aucune éthique, aucune politique, revolutionnaire ou non, ne paraît possible et pensable et juste, qui ne reconnaisse à son principe le...

(The entire section is 6836 words.)

Maria Olaussen (essay date summer 2002)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Olaussen, Maria. “‘About Lovers in Accra’—Urban Intimacy in Ama Ata Aidoo's Changes: A Love Story.Research in African Literatures 33, no. 2 (summer 2002): 61-80.

[In the following essay, Olaussen argues that Changes: A Love Story presents an “utopian” vision of the deconstruction of traditional sexual roles in postcolonial Africa.]

“What does a woman want?” If Sigmund Freud did not have an answer to that question, that is not the case with the mothers in Ama Ata Aidoo's novel Changes: A Love Story. The fact that their daughter is an educated woman in a lucrative job with great prospects for her future has a profound...

(The entire section is 10469 words.)

Modupe Olaogun (essay date summer 2002)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Olaogun, Modupe. “Slavery and Etiological Discourse in the Writing of Ama Ata Aidoo, Bessie Head, and Buchi Emecheta.” Research in African Literatures 33, no. 2 (summer 2002): 172-93.

[In the following essay, Olaogun explores the recurring theme of slavery in Anowa, Bessie Head's Maru, and Buchi Emecheta's The Slave Girl, asserting that the slavery motif “suggests a deeper structural analysis of historical time than a focus on the immediate independence period as a privileged moment through which the postindependence morass in Africa could be understood.”]

Slavery—human bondage for labor exploitation in domestic or market...

(The entire section is 11014 words.)