Ayi Kwei Armah Biography
(1938– ), Jeune Afrique, The Beautyful Ones Are not yet Born, Fragments, Why Are We so Blest
Ghanaian novelist and journalist, born in Takoradi, educated at the University of Ghana at Legon, and at Harvard. He worked as a scriptwriter and teacher in Ghana, and was editor and translator for Jeune Afrique in Paris. His first novel, The Beautyful Ones Are not yet Born (1968), was a bleak, vitriolic attack on widespread corruption in Ghanaian life as he saw it, its title borrowed from a slogan on a ‘mammy’ wagon, or lorry like the type often used for electioneering purposes. Its fiercely scatological imagery appears to reflect the author's own Swiftian disgust at the broken promises of post-independence politicians. Fragments (1970) and Why Are We so Blest? (1972) are equally disillusioned, but less vitriolic. Two Thousand Seasons (1973) and The Healers (1978) display a more expansive historical vision, though still uncompromising in moral stance; the former deals with the depredations of Islam and Christianity against traditional African culture, with griot storytellers at the forefront of resistance, and the latter examines the consequences of the British invasion of Asante. See Robert Fraser, The Novels of Ayi Kwei Armah (1980).
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