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Nana Afua Pierre On the Ghanaian Play, Anowa

Anowa – A review

“A wayfarer is a traveler. Therefore to call someone a wayfarer is a painless way of saying he does not belong. That he has no home, no family, no village, no stool of his own; He has no feast days, no holidays, no state, no territory.” Ama Ata Aidoo, Anowa


Anowa by Ama Atta Aidoo is a Ghanaian play I read as part of my English Lit syllabus as a teenager. It follows the life of a young woman, having rejected all the suitors presented to her, marries for love. Spoiler alert: It’s a tragedy. Reading Anowa at the “becoming” stage of my life, gave me purpose without a specific aim. Anowa gave me a new lens for understanding a brand of African feminism that I’d not really paid any attention to before. At the very least, it made me aware that I was an African woman whether I felt a sense of belonging to the notion or not.


As a matter of experience, many 1st or 2nd generation immigrants and returnees often feel the rug will be pulled from beneath their feet at any moment, which makes it difficult to lay roots anywhere. Identifying with the eponymous main character, a person could be in the heart of a community, with generations spanning behind them and still feel like an outsider. I still find this comforting. The tension of tradition and progress, communitarianism and individualism, personal gain at someone else’s loss all come together to make a classic piece of literature.

Nana Afua Pierre was shortlisted for The SI Leeds Literary Prize 2020. You can find her on Instagram: @nightlight_naif and on Twitter @nightlight_naif