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You are here:Home>>Strategic Research & Analysis>>Ghana poet, Kofi Awoonor Among the Dead in Kenya Massacre
Monday, 23 September 2013 13:07

Ghana poet, Kofi Awoonor Among the Dead in Kenya Massacre

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Ghanaian poet, Kofi Awoonor Ghanaian poet, Kofi Awoonor News+Rescue

Ghana and Africa have lost a great poet and diplomat Kofi Awoonor

Kofi Awoonor, the eminent Ghanaian poet, diplomat and academic had been killed  by terrorists in the Westgate Mall in Nairobi,. Awoonor was in Nairobi for the Storymoja Hay Festival.  He was  to play an important role in the festival to  celebrate the rising African poets and  African poetry.  Also his new book, “Promise of Hope: New and Selected Poems,” is to chronicle  the new African Poetry Book Series to be publish in early 2014. 62 people had died and still counting  since the siege began Saturday at Westgate Mall in Nairobi.


The terror is emitted by terroist group known as  Shabab, that came out of Somali. New York Times reported that, " Yet this weekend the Shabab showed that they are as dangerous as ever as a terrorist force, keeping Kenyan forces at bay through two days at the Westgate mall in Nairobi even as the militants mounted a coordinated attack against African Union forces in Mogadishu, according to senior American counterterrorism and diplomatic officials. Some officials warned that the Shabab could be signaling a wider offensive, particularly within Kenya, despite their losses in recent years at the hands of the African Union and Kenyan troops in its home country."


About  Kofi Awoonor

Kofi Awoonor (formerly George Awoonor-Williams) was born in Wheta, Ghana to Ewe parents. His grandmother was a dirge-singer, and much of his early work is modeled on this type of Ewe oral poetry. According to critic Derek Wright, the poetry "both drew on a personal family heirloom and opened up a channel into a broader African heritage." In Rediscovery (1964) and Petals of Blood (1971), Awoonor uses the common dirge motif of the "thwarted or painful return" to describe the experience of the Western-educated African looking back at his indigenous culture. His most famous poem from the first collection is "the Weaverbird." In it he uses the weaverbird, a notorious colonizer who destroys its host tree, as a metaphor for Western imperialism in Africa. He describes the bird's droppings as defiling the sacred places and homesteads. He also blames the Africans for indulging the creature.


Awoonor has written two novels. The first, This Earth, My Brother... (1971) is an experimental novel which he describes as a "prose poem." In it, Awoonor tells a story on two levels, each representing a distinct reality. The first level is a standard narrative which details a day in the life an attorney named Amamu. On another level, it is a symbol-laden mystical journey filled with biblical and literary allusions. These portions of the text deal with the new nation of Ghana, which is represented by a baby on a dunghill. The dunghill is a source of both rot and renewal, and in this way represents the foundations upon which Ghana was built, according to Awoonor.


Awoonor was closely tied to the first president of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah. Shortly after Nkrumah was driven out by a coup in 1966, Awoonor went into exile. During the time he was abroad, he completed graduate and doctoral studies, receiving a Ph.D. in literature from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1972. His dissertation was later published as The Breast of the Earth (1975). He returned to Ghana in 1975. Soon thereafter, he was detained for his alleged involvement with an Ewe coup plot. The House by the Sea (1978), a book of poetry, recounts his jail time.


Awoonor has not written much lately, instead spending his time engaged in Ghanaian political activities. Unfortunately, this emphasis seems to have diminished the quality in addition to the quantity of his literary output. His more recent work has been compared unfavorably to his early material. Derek Wright calls his most recent novel, Comes the Voyager at Last (1992), about an African-American's journey to Ghana, "flat and tired."

One of his poems;

This Earth, My Brother

The dawn crack of sounds known

rending our air

shattering our temples toppling

raising earthwards our cathedrals of hope,

in demand of lives offered on those altars

for the cleansing that was done long ago.

Within the airwaves we carry

our hutted entrails; and we pray;      Read the rest of the poem here


Awoonor Publications

1964 Rediscovery and Other Poems (poetry)

1971 Night of My Blood (poetry)

1971 This Earth, My Brother ... An Allegorical Tale of Africa (novel)

1972 Come Back, Ghana

1973 Ride Me, Memory (poetry)

1975 The Breast of the Earth: A Survey of the History, Culture and Literature of Africa South of the Sahara

1978 The House by the Sea (poetry)

1984 The Ghana Revolution: A Background Account from a Personal Perspective

1987 Until the Morning After: Collected Poems (poetry)

1990 Ghana: A Political History from Pre-European to Modern Times

1992 Comes the Voyager at Last: A Tale of Return to Africa (novel)

1992 The Latin American and Caribbean Notebook (poetry)

1994 Africa, the Marginalized Continent

2002 Herding the Lost Lamb (poetry)

2006 The African Predicament: Collected Essays

Source: Poetry Foundation Ghana

Last modified on Monday, 23 September 2013 13:15

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