The Life and Times of Ama Ata Aidoo

 The Life and Times of Ama Ata Aidoo Moderated by Molara Wood


A girl's voice does not break, and other quotes from Ama Ata Aidoo.

At the end of Aké festival every year, there is a session which features an interview with the headliner of the year just before Palm wine and poetry and the closing party. This year's life and times session featured the headliner, Ama Ata Aidoo, ghanian author, playwright and academic. She is renowned for her works, Sister Kill Joy and Changes, and other works that feature women protagonists who defy stereotypical women's roles of their time. It was headlined by Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o in 2016 and by poet in Niyi Osundare in 2015.


The interview session was moderated by author Molara Wood. It was an emotionally packed session with Ama Ata Aidoo shedding tears and expressing solidarity to other female writers, Buchi Emecheta, Flora Nwapa and Bessie Head. It was the best panel with which to end the festival themed, the F-word. 

During the session, she read two poems and a flash fiction story titled "Applications" which interrogates ideas of women. She also revealed that she is working on a book titled "Zero Means Downstairs" a dystopian set in Africa. It also featured a clip from a documentary about her life which showed the vicinity where she grew up.

She was full of so many advices, especially to writers. Here are a few:

  1. "Never wonder if people would like or hate your writing. Don't do yourself that injustice. If they love you or not, that's their business"
  2. On fitting African writers into a box, she says: "African writers are everywhere. I am against prescriptions as to what Africans should write about."
  3. "Sometimes, there is a tendency that people are forced to write about how miserable we are...because those are the books that would sell. It has to be resisted. It is wonderful to get published but please don't go looking for miserable stories about Africa just to get published."
  4. "Make time for your writing" She said and adviced that we take advantage of the internet. "If the publishers are discouraging, use the internet. Just put your work out there."
  5. "A good title does not necessarily mean a bad book but a bad title is a sure sign of a lousy book."

Importantly, from the last line of her second poem, Ama Ata Aidoo advices female writers: "A girl's voice does not break, it gets firmer"

Ope Adedeji