One of Africa’s most-celebrated authors and playwrights, Ghanaian Ama Ata Aidoo, has died aged 81.
A renowned feminist, she depicted and celebrated the condition of African women in works such as The Dilemma of a Ghost, Our Sister Killjoy and Changes.
She opposed what she described as a “Western perception that the African female is a downtrodden wretch”.
She also served as education minister in the early 1980s but resigned when she could not make education free.
In a statement, her family said “our beloved relative and writer” passed away after a short illness, requesting privacy to allow them to grieve.
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 polygamous 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.
Ama Ata Aidoo was born in a small village in Ghana’s central Fanti-speaking region in 1942.
Her father had opened the first school in the village and was a strong influence on her.
At the age of 15 she decided that she wanted to be a writer and within just four years, had achieved that ambition after she was encouraged to enter a competition.
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.