Anowa – Ama Ata Aidoo

Year of Publication: 1969

Genre: Play

Anowa is about the second play I have read after reading the acclaimed ‘The God’s Are Not to Blame’. This suggests that I have not as much explored this genre as I have with novels. But that said, I am certain that Anowa has won my interest in the world of plays.

Anowa is a play set in the 19th Century about the same time when slavery was on the ascendancy. The play is divided into three phases thus Phase One, Phase two and Phase Three but there is a prologue that precedes these divisions.

Anowa is a young woman who plays the lead role and it is for her characterization that builds up the play into a tragedy. From the onset, readers are made to understand that Anowa follows what she thinks best for herself, makes her own decisions and she is her own advisor. This leads her to choose a man for herself even when her parents disagree with her. Her parents consent for her choice of husband aside, Anowa has also refused to marry any of the men who have confronted her. Her decision then becomes final – she chooses Kofi Ako and the two leave the town, Yebi to Oguaa without a hand of her parents’ blessings.

The big question we then ought to ask is that: ‘what happens to Anowa and Kofi Ako when they have settled in Oguaa? Would the relationship end happily? What would become of the two by the end of the play?

In Ghana, the issue of marriage is a complex one. Why do I say so? Marriage does not only involve the man and the woman but rather takes into consideration the consent and involvement of the two families. Anowa did not get the consent and support from her parents when she had made her decision to settle with Kofi Ako and so she is denied her family’s blessings. You see? So she takes a curse instead of a blessing into her marriage. By the end of the story, the reader is made to understand whether the decision Anowa took helped her or not.

Let me leave you with this question: If you called your mother a witch and disagreed with her on your choice of man (husband) and then left with this man to settle in a new town, would you return back home, to your parents when things start to go wrong in your marriage?

This is one play you cannot go wrong with – it is a masterpiece. You will love it.

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12 Responses to Anowa – Ama Ata Aidoo

  1. amymckie says:

    Definitely a hard question. I’m looking forward to picking up this one at some point, I’m interested to find out what happens!

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  2. The issue of parents’ role in the lives of children is one that has bothered me for so long. We are always told that parents shouldn’t interfere with their children’s lives; that children know what is good for them; that children should be allowed to make their own choices; there should be no super-imposition. Yet, when children go wrong parents are blamed. How do I make you do right when I am being asked to let you do what you want and what you want is not what is right, having the benefit of hindsight? See the conundrum society, through its multifarious appendages, each seeking fame for itself, has put us in? Yes, the child goes out at night, meet certain friends, yet the parent is asked to allow the child to fraternise. Later he/she picks up a gun and starts shooting; start following a gang; leave school and do drugs; and these same parents are blamed.

    We are perishing from our own inconsistent ideologies.

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    • Geosi says:

      Wow Nana! You’ve said it all – we’re indeed perishing from our own incoherent ideologies.

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    • Kinna says:

      Nana, but this is the natural tension that exists between parenting and letting go. And it will always be there. With freedom comes a whole lot of responsibility and the issue really is: can the child handle all that comes with freedom, has the parent in fact done enough so that the child can in fact be free? One of the greatest questions in the animal kingdom, methinks.

      Geosi: wonderful review!

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  3. […] Aidoo and from where I stand, I’ve enjoyed all her books. The first I read and reviewed here was Anowa and then was followed by The Girl Who Can and Other […]

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  4. Torgbui Michael says:

    The question is a very intricate one. But one realizes that a mothers love surpasses most things and sometimes the worst of her child’s mistake. I honestly think that should a child (and in this case Anowa) had returned home to her mother, though the intensity and seriousness of her offense will have been rekindled back to life, her mother will still have a place in her heart to forgive her. A mother in this case having realized that her child acknowledges her superiority and authority in remedying her ill situation will not let go of that opportune time to reunite again with her prodigal daughter and she will definitely make that reunion happen. For all you know she sometimes reminisces those happy moments she had with Anowa as a baby and still yearns to touch and hold her child despite all that she did to her. But the thing that interests me most is why Anowa refuses to go and I think its perhaps a decision by the writer to tell us that a child’s defiance and hardheartedness typical of Anowa only leads to the end we see Anowa in.

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    • Geosi says:

      I really did enjoy reading your thoughts, Torgbui. And your last sentence makes me want to throw that question to the writer herself. Thanks for this comment.

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  5. […] The Dilemma of a Ghost and Anowa by Ama Ata Aidoo, a Ghanaian author whose book Changes I really enjoyed last year. This book was read and recommended by Geosi. […]

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  6. […] my reviews of Aidoo’s Changes, Anowa, The Girl who Can and Other […]

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