Ama Ata Aidoo was born in 1942, Ghanaian writer and one of the foremost writers in Africa. Aidoo is also a leader in communicating the politics that pervade women’s experiences, especially in Africa, and is one of the few African authors to write about the sometimes alienated relationships between Africans living in Africa and those living elsewhere. Her diverse output includes plays, poetry, short stories, novels, essays, and children’s stories, and is often marked by a sharp, opinionated tone.
Born Christina Ama Ata Aidoo in Abeadzi Kyiakor, in central Ghana, she earned her B.A. degree from the University of Ghana in 1964 and later studied at Stanford University in California. Her literary career began with a play, Dilemma of a Ghost (1964), which focuses on a young Ghanaian man who marries an African American during his student days and returns with her to live among his family. Differences in behaviors and cultural outlooks eventually cause a family crisis that is resolved as the women come to understand their conflicting positions. Anowa (1970), Aidoo’s second play, centers on a young woman who rebels against tradition by choosing her own husband and leaving her village. She gradually discovers a link between his accumulation of wealth and his domination of her, and in the end she rejects that wealth.
A collection of stories, No Sweetness Here (1970), deals with the wide-ranging issues of urban and rural life, youth and age, family relationships, and struggles of women. Aidoo’s novel Our Sister Killjoy, Reflections from a Black-Eyed Squint (1977) incorporates poetry, letters, narrative, and journal excerpts as it explores questions of exile and return, colonialism, racism and economic exploitation, conflicted relationships between men and women, and other issues.
A later novel, Changes: A Love Story (1991), addresses various issues in contemporary African women’s lives—love, betrayal, career, family, social and economic life, and parenting—without offering neat solutions to any of them. A second short-story collection, The Girl Who Can and Other Stories, was published in 1997.
Much of Aidoo’s poetry, which has appeared in numerous volumes and anthologies, was collected in her first volume, Someone Talking to Sometime (1985). Her second volume of poetry, An Angry Letter in January (1992), voices the range of struggles in her experiences as an African, a woman, and a writer. Aidoo has also published two children’s books, The Eagle and the Chickens and Birds and Other Poems (both 1987). She has taught literature at universities in Ghana, Zimbabwe, and the United States.