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The first of a series of posts celebrating the love, friendships, and bonds that inspire African writers as they build a community around the work of crafting stories in and about the continent. 

Read Ngugi’s reflection on Ama Ata Aidoo and her work. It is heartfelt and moving. 
Acquah, Nana - Ngugi and Aidoo

Ama Ata Aidoo too has been part of my intellectual journey. We have traveled many places together, having met in Kenya, Zimbabwe, Ghana, America, England, and Germany. She has been in many more places, which is another way of saying that she is first and foremost a writer of the world in the world.

Her infectious laughter and warm personality easily break barriers of culture and race, even when and where she is at her most critical. She never compromises on questions of African dignity and standing in the world. She is a great Pan-Africanist in life and thought; she embraced and was embraced by Kenya and Zimbabwe as a daughter of the land.

In that sense, we can paraphrase what is said of Kofi in Ama Ata Aidoo’s play, Anowa, but here in a positive way, that Ama has been, is, and will always be of us. She speaks to the human and the world but uncompromisingly through Africa. But her embrace and defence of Africa has not meant complacency.

Her embrace of the continent is through tough love: being able to see its beauty because she is also able to see clearly its warts. Dignity like any other ideal must start from home, the domestic sphere, and the sphere of self. One can pick any of her poems, stories and fiction generally to see this: but tough love was always there even in her earliest works. Aidoo’s work, including the playful mischief, is rooted in orature as much as it is in her literary inheritance from Africa and the world.

Whether in her short stories, children’s books, novels or plays, she speaks to the most urgent issues of our times. She is a writer for all seasons.

Read the full tribute {HERE}

The image is by Accra-based photographer, Nana Kofi Acquah. Check out more of his work {HERE}

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Ainehi Edoro is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she teaches African literature. She received her doctorate at Duke University. She is the founder and editor of Brittle Paper and series editor of Ohio University Press’s Modern African Writer’s imprint.

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