As the title character, Anowa is the center of the play. She is a young Ghanaian woman who is regarded as unusual and wild by others in her village, including her parents. Before meeting Kofi Ako in phase one, Anowa has refused to marry anyone who asked her. Her parents, especially her mother Badua, worry about her and her future. Her desire to marry Kofi Ako, whom her mother regards as less-than-perfect husband material, is another unexpected twist in her life. Osam, and others in the play, believe that Anowa would have been better off being a priestess.
After marrying Kofi Ako, Anowa is happy to help him in his work and build their business. Their only problem is their lack of children, which Anowa blames on herself in the form of some unknown shortcoming. While Kofi Ako appreciates Anowa's work to some degree, he would like it better if she would act more like a traditional wife. Anowa has no desire to live a life of leisure. Over her protests, Kofi Ako buys slaves which builds their business further. As Kofi Ako's wealth grows, Anowa becomes more alienated from him. By the end of the play, Anowa is still barren and Kofi Ako wants her to leave. Anowa has a revelation that Kofi Ako is less than a man, and his impotency has made them childless. Like her husband, Anowa kills herself by the end of the play. Her free-spirited ways were never appreciated by anyone in Anowa.
Kofi Ako Kofi Ako is Anowa's husband. Anowa's mother believes he is a fool and comes from a bad family, while Osam is content that his daughter is finally getting married. Anowa wants to help him make something of himself. Together, the couple builds a business trading skins. At first, Kofi Ako seems willing to accept his wife's help, though he wishes that she were more like other wives. To make this possible and improve their lives, Kofi Ako decides to buy slaves to help in the business. Anowa is vehemently opposed to owning slaves, but Kofi Ako rationalizes that because everyone else does it, it must be okay. Kofi Ako's strategy pays off in some ways. They do become very rich with a big house in Oguaa, but their marriage becomes strained. Anowa wants to work and is lost when forced to do nothing. The couple drifts apart while living under the same roof. A bigger issue between them is their lack of children, which Anowa initially blames on herself. When Kofi Ako asks her to leave without giving a reason in phase three, Anowa comes to question Kofi Ako's manhood. When she accuses him of being like a woman and implying that he is impotent in front of several slaves, Kofi Ako kills himself. Kofi Ako never really understood his wife, only what society expected a wife to be.
Abena Badua Badua is the mother of Anowa and wife of Osam. She is bewildered by her only surviving child and her attitudes. Like Kofi Ako, Badua wants Anowa to be normal. For Badua, this means to have married at an appropriate age. She rejects Osam's suggestion that Anowa would have been better off training to be a priestess. Such a woman would not have been a person. Badua is appalled when Anowa announces that she will marry Kofi Ako. This is the worst man Anowa could have married. In Badua's opinion, he is a fool. Badua and Anowa's disagreement comes to blows. When Anowa leaves, she vows not to return and says that her mother is driving her away....
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Despite their differences, in phase two, Badua expresses a desire to go and look for her. Badua does not understand her daughter, nor, in many ways, her husband. Badua is very set in her beliefs and has no desire to compromise them. Some villagers believe that Anowa is different because her mother spoiled her as a child.
Being-The-Mouth-That-Eats-Salt-And-Pepper This couple set up and comment on the action of the play. The Old Woman is very critical of Anowa and the choices she makes, while the Old Man is more sympathetic.
Boy Boy is one of the slaves owned by Kofi Ako. He is very interested in Girl, and with her discusses Kofi Ako and Anowa in phase three. The Boy follows orders given to him, and does not gossip like Girl does.
Girl Girl is a slave in the household of Kofi Ako and Anowa. She gossips to Boy about the couple's problems. She tells him how many believe there is something wrong with Anowa, but is also sympathetic to her mistress's lack of children. Girl can imagine what she would do in Anowa's position. She also believes that Kofi Ako is afraid of women.
Old ManSee Being-The-Mouth-That-Eats-Salt-And-Pepper.
Old WomanSee Being-The-Mouth-That-Eats-Salt-And-Pepper.
Osam Osam is the father of Anowa and the husband of Badua. Though local custom dictates that he does not play much of a role in finding a husband for his daughter, Osam does not have a big problem with her marrying Kofi Ako. He admits that she is wild, but his wife has previously shot down his suggestion that Anowa be apprenticed to a priestess. Unlike Badua, Osam has some understanding of his daughter and her beliefs. Osam comprehends Anowa's problem with slavery. Yet he also acknowledges in phase two that he has always feared Anowa and thought her strange. Osam gets along with his wife, though he believes that she complains too much. They often disagree, but stay together.
Panyin-Na-Kakra Panyin-Na-Kakra are a set of eight-year-old twin boys who are slaves in the house of Kofi Ako and Anowa. In phase three, the boys fan the gilded chair of Kofi Ako before his arrival. When Anowa sees them doing this task, she sends them away.