Parliament pays tribute to Ama Ata Aidoo

Ama Ata Aidoo
Ama Ata Aidoo

Madam Abla Dzifa Gomashie, Member of Parliament (MP) for Ketu South in a tribute, has eulogised late Prof Ama Ata Aidoo, literary icon of Africa, for her courage to look to authority in the face and speak truth to it.

“Mr. Speaker, it is with mixed emotions that I read out this statement to this august House,” Madam Gomashie said in a statement, on the floor of Parliament, in Accra on Friday.

“A part of my grief while the other gets to celebrate the life of a forceful being who singlehandedly changed the values of our traditional educational system,” the Ketu South MP said.

She noted that the late Prof Ama Ata Aidoo, a Ghanaian dramatist, poet, novelist, teacher, and short story writer, was born in Abeadze Dominase to Nana Manu III (aka Nana Yaw Fama) and Elizabeth Aba Abasema Bosu.

Her father was the Odzikro (Chief) of Abeadze Kyeakor and Kyidomhen of the Abeadze Traditional Area; she grew up in her father’s household in Abeadze Kyeakor in the Central Region of Ghana.

“The seed of the writer was first planted in that village, nurtured by the everyday rhythms and conversations of women and men.
“My love for African culture and literature obviously drew me to the works of Ama Ata Aidoo.

“I was captivated and intrigued by her writing and the sense of imagination she captured in her writings. She delved into the soul of African tradition through her literary works,” Madam Gomashie said.

“As fate would have it, I met her at 17 years old at the staging of her play ‘Anowa’. I told her I was Anowa and she had a good laugh. From then on as her daughter Kinna says, I became her daughter.”

Madam Gomashie said as a Deputy Minister for Tourism, Culture, and Creative Arts, in time past, she met Prof Ama Ata Aidoo and often and tapped from her wisdom.
She reiterated that meeting Prof Ama Ata Aidoo was always an opportunity to learn from her.

“It is through reading her plays, poems, short stories and novels that I learnt more about what an African woman, a Ghanaian woman and the African went through, what we can do to change the narrative and to be proud of who we are. She is phenomenal,” she said.

Madam Gomashie said Prof Ama Ata Aidoo served as Secretary for Education in Ghana from 1982 to 1983 under Jerry John Rawlings and the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) administration.

She said realizing the impossibility of achieving universal education for all, outlined in a draft proposal for restructuring Ghana’s educational system that she authored, she resigned from the government.

Madam Gomashie noted that this did not stop her contribution to Ghana’s educational curriculum.
“Her works have been used widely in our literature and theatre departments in our secondary and tertiary schools,” she said.

She praised her for having the courage to look authority in the face and speak truth to authority.

“Whether in drama, short story, novel, essay, or poetry, her dedication to her art and audience, and her concerns as a woman, writer, and teacher motivated her to continually examine and explore the complex issues of gender, race, and class in an exemplary fashion.”

The MP said Prof Ama Ata Aidoo indeed, opened doors and set the tone for contemporary playwriters and novelists of today.

Touching on awards received by the late Prof Ama Ata Aidoo, Madam Gomashie cited the highest civilian honour in Ghana, the Member of the Volta.

Madam Gomashie said as the Chief Executive Officer for Life Ghana, she honored the late Prof Ama Ata Aidoo with a citation as a trailblazer.

Dr Kwabena Donkor, MP for Pru East, in associating himself with the statement said he had the chance to know the late Prof Ama Ata Aidoo in the PNDC days as Secretary for Education; and that she brought a certain level of dynamism to the position.

He praised her for having the courage to look authority in the face and speak truth to authority.

Speaker Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin in his contribution eulogized the late Prof Ama Ata Aidoo for her sterling performance as a playwright, poet, academician and Pan-Africanist.

He prayed that many of such women would rise up in Africa; “and teach the world that we were before they came. That she did throughout her life.

He said the uniqueness of the Prof Ama Ata Aidoo and her character were there for all to see.

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