No Sweetness Here Analysis
by Ama Ata Aidoo

Start Your Free Trial

Historical Context

(Literature of Developing Nations for Students)

Download No Sweetness Here Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Aidoo was born in 1924, in the region of Africa now called Ghana. The history of Ghana, like that of many African nations, is that of colonization by Europeans, followed by national independence in the 20th century. The Portuguese first arrived in the region, by sea, in 1471. Their initial interest was in sources of gold, which they shipped to Europe. The area was thus known to Europeans as the Gold Coast until 1957. In the 1600s, Portuguese dominion in the Gold Coast ceded to the powers of Dutch, British, and Danish traders, who kidnapped Africans to be sold as slaves in the United States. In the early 1800s, these European nations outlawed slave trade. The British gradually increased their control in the Gold Coast during the 1800s, and in 1874 it was made a British colony. In the early 1900s, the primary trading resource of the Gold Coast became cocoa, from the development of vast cocoa plantations. In 1957, the region, renamed Ghana, achieved the right to self-government, although it remained a member of the British Commonwealth. In 1960, it became a republic. A military coup in 1972 resulted in an era of repressive policies; another military coup was carried out in 1981; in 1992, a new constitution was instituted, and in 1993 a fourth Republic of Ghana was established.

Education in Ghana
Chicha, the narrator of this story, is the schoolteacher in the small village of Bamso. Ghana enjoys a relatively high level of adult literacy, due in part to the government's establishment of a new system of education in 1974. There are three universities in Ghana, all of them owned and run by the government: The University of Ghana, the University of Science and Technology, and the University of Cape Coast.

West African Literature
M. Keith Booker has discussed Aidoo's works in the context of the development of the novel form in West African literature. Booker explains, ‘‘Writers from countries such as Nigeria and Ghana have been especially important in the development of the African novel, partially because Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, and Ghana was the first African colony to achieve independence from British rule.’’ Citing Amos Tutuola as a key figure, Booker adds, "Nigerian novelists can draw upon an especially strong tradition of oral storytelling.’’ Tutuola's novel The Palm-Wine Drunkard (1952) was a seminal text in the development of West African literature in English. Booker claims that Tutuola "can be seen as a sort of bridge between traditional African oral narratives and the more conventionally literary African novels that began to be published soon after his work first appeared.’’ Among other key West African novelists, according to Booker, is Chinua Achebe, particularly for his novel Things Fall Apart (1958); Booker states, ‘‘Achebe has been an inspirational figure for the generation of African writers who followed him, not only in West Africa, but in the entire continent."

Literary Style

(Literature of Developing Nations for Students)

This story is told from the perspective of the first person restricted point of view. This means that the narrator is a character in the story, and that the narrative point of view is limited to that of the narrator. The reader is given only information available to the narrator—in this case Chicha, the schoolteacher in the small Fanti village of Bamso. This narrative technique is effective for this story in that it allows the reader to identify with a woman who is an outsider to the traditional village culture in which she is living and working. Thus, her perspective on the characters and events around her, such as the conditions of the marriage and the traditions of divorce between Maami Ama and Kodjo Fi, is that of an outside observer. Although this is her culture of origin, she has been educated in a Western culture and so her own traditions are unfamiliar to her. This allows her, and the reader, both a privileged inside view of a traditional African culture and the vantage point of an outside perspective....

(The entire section is 1,621 words.)