Prof. Ama Ata Aidoo (originally Christina Ama Aidoo) was born on 23rd March 1942 in Abeadzi Kyiakor, near Saltpond in Ghana. Growing up in a Fante royal household, her father had opened the first school in their village and that was a strong influence on her. She attended Wesley Girls’ High School in Cape Coast from 1961 to 1964. The headmistress of Wesley Girls’ bought her her first typewriter.
In 1964 she enrolled at the University of Ghana where obtained a Bachelor’s degree in English. She put up her first play, The Dilemma of a Ghost during her time there. She would later return to be a lecturer at the school.
Her play was published by the Longman, making her the first published African woman dramatist. She held a fellowship in creative writing at Stanford University and served as a research fellow at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana as well. She later lectured at the Cape Coast University, where she was honoured as a Professor. Aidoo taught courses at the Hamilton College, New York and a visiting Professor in the African Studies department at Brown University.
Ama Aidoo is renowned writer whose works emphasize on the tension between Western and African world views. She also projects women who defy stereotypical women’s roles.
“At the age of 15, a teacher had asked me what I wanted to do for a career, and without knowing why or even how I replied a poet. About four years later I won a short story competition but learned about it only when I opened the newspaper that had organized it, and saw the story had been published on its center pages and realized the name of the author of that story in the print was mine. I believe these moments were crucial for me because I had articulated a dream, it was a major affirmation for me as a writer, to see my name in the print.” – Ama Ata Aidoo.
Her works include The Dilemma of a Ghost, Anowa, No Sweetness Here, Our Sister Killjoy, Someone Talking to Sometime, The Eagle and the Chickens and Other Stories, Birds and Other Poems, Changes: a Love Story, An Angry Letter in January, The Girl Who Can and Other Stories and Diplomatic Pounds and Other Stories. She was the editor of African Love Stories.
In 1982, Ama Ata Aidoo was appointed Minister of Education under the Provisional National Defence Council. She would resign only after 18 months. In 2000 she established the Mbaasem Foundation which is to promote and support the work of African women writers.
She has won many literary awards. In 1992, her book Changes won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book.