Review: Dilemma of a Ghost and Anowa by Ama Ata Aidoo
Title: Dilemma of a Ghost and Anowa
Author: Aidoo, Ama Ata
Length: 124 pages
Genre: Fiction, General, Drama
Publisher / Year: Longman African Writers / 1965
Source: Purchased from Amazon.
Why I Read It: I picked this up after reading Changes by the author last year.
Date Read: 18/11/11
This book is a collection of two plays written by Aidoo. Both of the plays were fantastic, each in their own way. As with the other plays I’ve read this year, I do wish I had the opportunity to see these live! It isn’t quite as good, I think, reading plays. That being said, these were both fantastic reads and I’m glad I got to do that at least even if I can’t see them being performed!
Dilemma of a Ghost tells the story of Ato and Eulalie. The two met at university in the United States and were married. Eulalie, an African-American woman, then moves back to Ghana with Ato. The play focuses mainly on the cultural differences and the struggles that Eulalie faces in fitting in.
Ato’s family displays the prejudice of thinking African-Americans inferior as they are descendants of slaves. Eulalie considers many of his family’s customs backwards and is disdainful of many of them. The interplay between the two groups shows both the prejudices that exist between Africans and African-Americans as well as the difficulties in bridging the gap between the groups if the middle link isn’t willing to make an effort.
Anowa tells the story of a young woman who grows up very spirited and willing to speak her mind. She goes against the advice of her parents and community in choosing her own husband, and then has to deal with the consequences. In this story we see more of the benefits of culture and customs and the reasons behind them.
One thing I found really interesting in this play was the way the old man and old woman play their roles. The woman is an advocate of old gender roles while the man more willing to concede and be flexible on them. I think this was very telling both in the way people grow accustomed to the way things are and the ways in which different people see things differently.
Both plays were well written and easy to follow, I could see how they would play out while reading which is always a benefit. The plays both had so much depth to them and will keep me thinking on various topics and points for time to come. To date I’ve read a novel, a collection of short stories edited by, and these two plays by Aidoo. All of them were fantastic. I am always impressed by authors who can master such a wide range of forms, and Aidoo does it wonderfully. Definitely an author I recommend.