Ama Ata Aidoo goes home
A solemn and befitting state burial service was held on Thursday [July 13] at the forecourt of the State House in Accra for the illustrious Ghanaian poet, playwright and academician, Professor Ama Ata Aidoo, who died on May 31, 2023 at 81.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, former President John Dramani Mahama; the African Union High Representative for Silencing the Guns, Dr Ibn Chambas; the Chief of Staff at the Office of the President, Akosua Frema Osei Opare, and the 2020 NDC running mate, Prof Naana Jane Opoku Agyeman were in attendance.
Officiated by a large retinue of clergy led by the President Bishop of the Methodist Church, Ghana, Most Rev. Dr Paul Boafo, the burial service had ministers of state, Members of Parliament, some members of academia, the military top brass, family and friends in attendance.
Reading a tribute, President Akufo-Addo quoted the African proverb: “Every time an elder dies, a library burns with him,” meaning when an elder passes on some amount of stored knowledge disappears.
He said that cannot be said about Ama Ata Aidoo who was a knowledgeable teacher, famous poet, flawless public servant and an outstanding writer, who possessed excellent mastery of the English language and put all into writing.
He said the late professor was his contemporary in the 1960s when they were students at the University of Ghana, Legon and “someone whom I enjoyed friendly and productive relations with.”
President Akufo-Addo indicated that through her work, Ama Atta Aidoo made a tremendous contribution to the development of Ghana and Africa, and expressed many feelings about the faith of Ghanaians and Africans.
He said she was famed for taking African literature back to one of its primary origins and exemplified the words of Ngugi Wa Thiango that the “written words too can sing”, adding that her plays and essays captured the imagination and spoke directly and unambiguously.
He said her contribution towards the education of women and the girl-child in general was remarkable and that even though she never took up a gun in the African struggle for independence, her pen did the fighting for the liberation of the political and social consciousness of the African.
The ceremony was interspersed with some of her poems, hymns by the Methodist Church and songs by the Winneba Youth Choir.
A 143-page gorgeously designed brochure distributed contained memorable pictures of her with some leaders around the world, classmates, colleagues and family members.
Tributes written by laureates such as Wole Soyinka, Efua Sutherland, Anne Adams, among others, as well as tributes by family members were also captured in the brochure.
In her tribute, Kinna Nana Adjoa Kwesiwa Likimani, her only daughter, like her mum, used words to describe in colourful terms her relationship with her mum, which drew applause from the crowd.
She described her mum as a made-in-Ghana mum, whose Pan-Africanism, feminism, socialism, tolerance and acceptance of marginalised people were exemplary and that she would always say that the world was big enough to hold all kinds of people.
“These values, coupled with clarity and courage of purpose meant she was unstoppable and unwavering. She wrote us to freedom. Love and kindness don't make you weak”.
“Mummy, a mountain of outstanding things are being said about you, all deserved. If you were here, you would be incredulous and ask "they are saying these wonderful words about me?, part of the tribute read."
“As Uncle Kojo used to say, I have "a big mouth" so I'll tell those gathered here today that you were the most stubborn person, period. Founder of Stubborn Academy. She Who Will Not Be Moved,” she added.
In a sermon, Rev. Dr Paul Boafo said just as Ama Ata Aidoo used her writings and speeches to fight for the right of others, including domination of the western world over Africa, others must emulate her example.
He urged people to lead good and exemplary life because death was inevitable and after death, as the holy Bible had stated, there would be judgement.
The Ghana Navy in a regimented fashion made up of females presented the wreaths to seven designated people who laid them on behalf of the state, the chiefs and people, her daughter, the clergy, the writers’ association, Wesley Girls High School and Wesley Girls Old Students Association.
Her casket, draped in the colours of the flag of Ghana, was carried by the officers and men of the Ghana Navy to a waiting hearse be transported to her hometown, Abeadze Kyeakor in the Central Region, for burial on Saturday.