Research in African Literatures 33.4 (2002) 208
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Contemporary Ghanaian Literature, Theater and Film
FonTonFrom: Contemporary Ghanaian Literature, Theater and Film, ed. Kofi Anyidoho and James Gibbs. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2000. 383 pp. ISBN 90-420-1283-8.
This special edition of the journal Matatu presents a comprehensive survey of contemporary literary and performance arts in Ghana. Although it is specifically dedicated to the memory of Efua Sutherland, and contains important documentary material by and on the famous author, this volume has even more to offer, especially at a time when authors based abroad increasingly attract a disproportionate amount of critical attention accorded to African writing. The distinctive qualities of the volume are as follows: It focuses, in the first place, on contemporary artistic production within the country. Scholars of African literature working outside Ghana are of course familiar with the works of authors like Ayi Kwei Armah, Ama Ata Aidoo, Efua Sutherland, and others who were active in the years immediately following independence. By contrast, much less is known about artists who began to acquire visibility in the 1990s. This volume brings readers up to date by introducing authors like Mohammed Ben Abdallah, Kobena Eyi Acquah, and Bill Marshall, among others, to critics of African literature. And while creative writing accounts for only a small segment of the almost 400-page volume, articles and reviews of creative texts give some insight into the directions taken by recent Ghanaian writing. Along the same lines, and in the second place, the volume provides information on the recent works of well-known authors such as Kofi Anyidoho, Atukwei Okai, and Kofi Awonoor, as well as drawing attention to previously neglected areas in the creative corpus of some writers. Examples include the poetry of Ama Ata Aidoo, Kojo Laing, and Ayi Kwei Armah.
Furthermore, and in third place, the volume departs from the tendency to present written creative texts in isolation from other artistic practices in the society. The articles analyze published as well as unpublished texts. The contributors discuss prose works, but also Ghanaian video film, in addition to the national theater movement and the Ghanaian Dance Ensemble. The material in this special edition of Matatu is divided into five sections: "Articles," "Marketplace: The Media," "Interviews," "Creative Writing," and "Book Reviews" dealing with issues related to contemporary artistic practice in Ghana from various perspectives. Ofotsu Adinku's article, for instance, takes up the question of whether modern choreographic works should be protected by copyright law, while Woeli Dekutsey reflects on the impact of publishing on the development of creative writing in Ghana. Interviews with creative writers and journalists give us further insight into the diverse contexts of writing in Ghana. Studies of specific texts, authors, and trends add to the richness of the volume, allowing us to see creative practice in Ghana from the perspective of both the artist and the critic. Above all, reading this volume advances one's awareness of the vibrant artistic life and practice in contemporary Ghana. Hopefully, the editorial board at Matatu will consider producing similar publications on other African cultures and locations.
Moradewun Adejunmobi teaches African Studies at the University of California, Davis.