The iconic Ghanaian writer whose classics The Dilemma of a Ghost and Changes were taught to children in West African schools for decades, was also famous for her feminist ideals;she depicted and celebrated the condition of African women in works such as The Dilemma of a Ghost, Our Sister Killjoy and Changes.
She opposed what she described as a "Western perception that the African female is a downtrodden wretch".
She also served as education minister in the early 1980s but resigned when she could not make education free. The cause of death was an undisclosed illness.
“The family … with deep sorrow but in the hope of the resurrection, informs the general public that our beloved relative and writer passed away in the early hours of this morning Wednesday 31st May 2023, after a short illness,” read the statement signed by Kwamena Essandoh Aidoo, a representative of the family.
Ama Ata Aidoo was born in a small village in Ghana's central Fanti-speaking region in 1942. Her father had opened the first school in the village and was a strong influence on her.
At the age of 15 she decided that she wanted to be a writer and within just four years, had achieved that ambition after she was encouraged to enter a competition.
"I won a short story competition but learned about it only when I opened the newspaper that had organised it, and saw the story had been published on its centre pages and realised the name of the author of that story in print was mine," Ata Aidoo once said as she looked back at her career.
"I believe these moments were crucial for me because ... I had articulated a dream... it was a major affirmation for me as a writer, to see my name in print."
She went on to study literature at the University of Ghana and became a lecturer, publishing her first play in 1964. After her 18 month-foray into politics she went into self-imposed exile in Zimbabwe for a time and became a full-time writer.
A university professor, Ata Aidoo won many literary awards for her novels, plays and poems, including the 1992 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Changes, a love story about a statistician who divorces her first husband and enters into a polygamous marriage.
Her work, including plays like Anowa, have been read in schools across West Africa, along with works of other greats like Wole Soyinka and Chinua Achebe. Her first work, The Dilemma of a Ghost, a play, was published in 1965, making her the first African woman to publish a play. She went on to become one of the continent’s best-known writers, inspiring a generation of younger authors, artists and feminists.