3 days until Film Africa kick’s off, so we’re treating you with 3 reviews!

First up is Melissa Loftman’s lovely review of The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo, which is showing as a double bill with the wonderful doc Ken Bugul: Nobody Wants Her:

Here’s what Melissa had to say:

‘A girl’s voice doesn’t break, it gets firmer’

Ama Ata Aidoo, a Ghanian author, feminist, poet, playwright and academic has a career that has spanned decades. A trailblazer in her field her work is studied and celebrated. With many of her stories so revered it is a shame that more western audiences have not been exposed to her work.

This documentary takes you through an enjoyable journey through an eventful year in Aidoo’s life. We join her as she travels back to her home town in Ghana, a look back at her many creative works and through the historically significant times in her past. Her works are said to have brilliantly captured the hope and exhilaration of Africa in the 60s and 70s, and the hippie movement, anti-war and civil rights movement and explosion of many counter cultures in the United States.

For those less familiar with her, you discover Aidoo’s wealth of creative contributions. Aidoo’s works particularly deal with the tension between Western and African world views. With themes often exploring the legacy of the slave trade, the impact of neo-colonialism on the educated Ghanaian elite, and the notion of exile and African diasporic identity. She muses in the film that Ghanians have never dealt with their colonial past and the presence of African Americans in Ghana are an uncomfortable reminder of this.

She never shies away from the controversial or uncomfortable declaring that African writers are compelled to deal with such issues. Often her stories focus on the role of women in the process of change. Many of Aidoo’s protagonists are women who defy the stereotypical women’s roles of their time.

Funny, thought provoking and emotional, ultimately this documentary is a celebration of Aidoo’s work as much as it comments on the struggle many female writers have had to contend with to be represented and taken as seriously as their male counterparts. Aidoo comments that for the longest time publishers did not want to market African women writers but now they realise there is a vast audience hungry for writing talent regardless of gender. She has paved the way for a new generation of female African authors and this film does justice in showcasing that.

Thanks to Melissa for this review. If you want to celebrate African achievement in literature you can book tickets for the double bill here