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Black Performance on the Outskirts of the LeftA History of the Impossible$
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Malik Gaines

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781479837038

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479837038.001.0001

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Efua Sutherland, Ama Ata Aidoo, the State, and the Stage

Efua Sutherland, Ama Ata Aidoo, the State, and the Stage

(p.55) 2 Efua Sutherland, Ama Ata Aidoo, the State, and the Stage
Black Performance on the Outskirts of the Left

Malik Gaines

NYU Press

Shortly after its independence from Britain, Ghana became a transnational center for emerging political projects of black liberation. Its president, Kwame Nkrumah, sought to integrate a Marxist ideology with local knowledge in the context of the new nation-state, and proposed cultural initiatives that would support this synthesis. The plays of Efua Sutherland, a leading member of Ghana’s independence-era cultural elite, and Ama Ata Aidoo, who has come to be seen as an important figure of African post-colonial writing, reveal the ambitions and the difficulties of African modernity. Both writers situate a colonial legacy against Ghanaian cultural life and a black transnational influence. While fulfilling a state mandate for original productions, their plays (in particular, Sutherland’s Edufa and Foriwa, and Aidoo’s The Dilemma of a Ghost) complicate the statist ideology with an emergent African feminism that disallows synthesis, and shows the critical power of difference.

Keywords:   Ghana, Nkrumahism, African feminism, Efua Sutherland, Ama Ata Aidoo, post-colonial, theater, Edufa, Foriwa, The Dilemma of a Ghost

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