President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his wife Rebecca Akufo-Addo on Thursday took part in the State-assisted memorial service for Prof Ama Ata Aidoo, an internationally acclaimed Ghanaian playwright, who passed away at age 81.
Prof. Ama Ata Aidoo, who had been extolled as one of Africa’s leading literary lights, as well as an influential women’s advocate, died on Wednesday May, 31, 2023.
The forecourt of the State House hosted some statesmen, such as the former President, John Dramani Mahama, traditional rulers, foreign diplomats, academics and cross section of Ghanaians who thronged to file past the mortal remains of the playwright.
“Exceptional woman, knowledgeable teacher, famous poet, public servant, flawless storyteller, outstanding writer,” that was how President Akufo-Addo chose to describe Ama Atta Aidoo in his tribute.
“Ama Ataa Aidoo was a big Ghanaian and had a reach that was beyond Ghana. We will miss her. The African continent and, indeed, the world will miss her,” he stated.
Ama Ata Aidoo, the President maintained, possessed an exceptional mastery of the English language and like many others, he (the President), heard about her demise with great sadness.
Quoting an adage that “Anytime an elder dies, some amount of stored knowledge disappears with him/her,” President Akufo-Addo said that could not be said of the woman whose life had been amply demonstrated by her compelling playwrights, poetry, essays and advocacy for women empowerment, among others.
The playwright, according to President Akufo-Addo, carved a stoic carrier, spanning over seven decades, where she was famed as “taking African literature back to one of its primary origins.”
Her plays and essays, according to the President “captured the imaginations and spoke directly and unambiguously.”
President Akufo-Addo said her books and plays contained compelling experiences that would never be forgotten by anyone who have had the privilege to read or watched them.
“Indeed, plays she wrote as far back in 1964, are still being studied in our schools because of their continued relevance to the growth and development of our nation,” he emphasized.
Literature in Ama Ata Aidoo’s own words, the President stressed “must serve a purpose, expose and embarrass, fight corruption and authoritarianism.”
As a tireless advocate for women, President Akufo-Addo said Ama Ata Aidoo held the belief that women were first line educators of “our children, our communities, our nations, our region and our continent. We empower our children by empowering our women.”
She fought against everything cultural, economic, religious and social that hindered the forward march of women and urged governments, particularly African governments, to take appropriate actions, to implement fully and efficiently, commitments needed to improve the welfare of women and children.
Ama Ata Aidoo’s brief and only foray into formal politics, saw her being appointed Secretary for Education in 1982 in the PNDC government.
She took up that position, according to President Akufo-Addo, because she wanted to get majority of Ghanaians, especially the girl-child, educated.
Ama Ataa Aidoo, he said, was certain that if Ghana desired the skills required to compete in the modern economy and also be self-confident as a truly independent state, then “providing educational access to all Ghanaians, especially women and children, was a must.”
Education for her, provided the fastest road out of poverty. But unfortunately, under those political circumstances, Ama Ataa Aidoo realised she could not easily achieve her goals so “she graciously exited government.”
Failure for her, however, was never an option, the President stated, as she went back to pursue the path for which she was known.
“Even though she never took up a gun, in Africa’s struggle for independence, “her pen did the fighting,” President Akufo-Addo stated.
He said the community of writers have lost one of their greatest members, “one who will be extremely difficult to replace.”
As a contemporary in the 1960s and at the University of Ghana, Legon, President Akufo-Addo said even though she was older than him, “she was someone whom I enjoyed friendly and had productive relations.
Through her work, President Akufo-Addo said, she made tremendous contribution to the development of Ghana and the continent.
Her life’s work, the President maintained, was a classic example of the off sighted adage that “the Pen is mightier than the sword.”
“My wife Rebecca, my children and grandchildren and I, express our sincerest condolences to her daughter, Kinna Nana Adjoa Kwesiwa Likimani, to her grandchildren, to her family and to all Ghanaians on this great loss.”
Rex Mainoo Yeboah, ISD