Ama Ata Aidoo, a Ghanaian playwright, author and activist who was hailed as one of Africa’s leading literary giants, has died aged 81.

Her family said in a statement that she died on May 31 after a brief illness. The statement did not specify the cause or where she died.

In a wide-ranging career that included writing plays, novels and short stories, stints on multiple university faculties and, briefly, a position as a cabinet minister in Ghana, Ms. Aidoo established herself as a major voice of post-colonial Africa.

Her breakthrough play, “The Dilemma of a Ghost,” published in 1965, explored the cultural dislocations experienced by a Ghanaian student who returns home after studying abroad and by those of his Black American wife, who must confront the legacies of colonialism and slavery. 

It was one of several of Ms. Aidoo’s works that became staples in West African schools.

Throughout her literary career, Ms. Aidoo sought to illuminate the paradoxes faced by modern African women, still burdened by the legacies of colonialism. 

She rejected what she described as the “Western perception that the African female is a downtrodden wretch.”

She was a major Pan-Africanist voice, arguing for unity among African countries and for their continued liberation. 

She spoke with fury about the centuries of exploitation of the continent’s natural resources and people.

“Since we met you people 500 years ago, now look at us,” she said in an interview with a French journalist in 1987. 

“We’ve given everything, you are still taking. I mean where will the whole Western world be without us Africans? Our cocoa, timber, gold, diamond, platinum.”

“Everything you have is us,” she continued. “I am not saying it. It’s a fact. And in return for all these, what have we got? Nothing.”

RIP African legend. 

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