Ama Ata Aidoo, the iconic Ghanaian writer whose classics The Dilemma of a Ghost and Changes were taught to children in West African schools for decades, has died aged 81.
The death of the playwright and poet who was famous for her feminist ideals was announced on Wednesday in a short statement by her family.
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The cause of death was an undisclosed illness.
“The family … with deep sorrow but in the hope of the resurrection, informs the general public that our beloved relative and writer passed away in the early hours of this morning Wednesday 31st May 2023, after a short illness,” read the statement signed by Kwamena Essandoh Aidoo, a representative of the family.
Born in 1942 in a village in central Ghana, Aidoo began writing at 15. She ended up studying literature at the University of Ghana, where she lectured for years.
Her first work, The Dilemma of a Ghost, a play, was published in 1965, making her the first African woman to publish a play. She went on to become one of the continent’s best-known writers, inspiring a generation of younger authors, artists and feminists.
Aidoo, who was Ghana’s education minister from 1982 to 1983, won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book for Changes, a story about an educated woman navigating the complexities of a polygamous marriage.