Anowa is Ama Ata Aidoo’s play about the conflicts which arise when a strong-willed young woman named Anowa rejects tribal conventions, elopes with Kofi Ako-the man of her own choice and is forced to live in self exile.
Set in the late 19th century in Ghana, this play takes us through the emotions Anowa goes through when she soon finds that after she helps Kofi start a business and they become rich, all the wealth they have accumulated is no consolation for her inability to conceive and bear a child. Additionally, when Kofi Ako becomes involved with the slave trade despite Anowa’s protests, she realizes that he is not the man she thought he was. This leads to a breakdown of their marriage, and a tragic end for both.
Anowa’s tale forces us to reflect on contemporary social issues, as it explores recurring age-long universal themes of marriage, gender roles and the power of tradition and custom.
CAST & CREW
Stage Manager | Prudence Kalipinde
Operations Manager | Kudakwashe Kanembirira
Associate Artistic Director | Elizabeth Zaza Muchemwa
Reader | Pamela Munetsi
A NOTE FROM DIRECTOR SANDRA CHIDAWANYIKA-GOLIATH
Directing Ama Ata Aidoo’s Anowa
“Ama would have loved this interpretation of her play”, remarked a happy member of the audience during the post-performance discussion, after revealing that she was Ghanaian and a personal friend of the Ghanaaian playwright Ama Ata Aidoo. It was Ama Ata Aidoo’s unique writing style and use of historical facts and African proverbs, to turn an ordinary folktale into a story with a strong message, which attracted me to this play. So vivid was the imagery, I sensed that this writer is passionate about her work and wants to make sure no detail is rearranged or deemed unimportant or missed in delivery. This beautifully written play set in Ghana 1874, “thirty years after the bond of 1844” is about Anowa, a strong-willed and free-spirited girl who is expected to marry at puberty. For six years she turns all her suitors away, until she falls for Kofi Ako; a ‘watery man of all watery men,’ as referred to by Anowa’s mother who knows about his reputation of indolence. In defiance to her mother Abena Badua’s counsel, she walks out on her and her father, Papa Osam to start a new life with Kofi Ako, vowing never to return. Anowa and Kofi Ako enter into the trade business, led by Anowa, and become very successful, but after a few years of marriage, Anowa realizes that her husband is a devil in disguise. A series of events lead to a mentally unstable Anowa, and a tragic end for both. Anowa represents the modern woman who likes to make her own decisions and live life as she chooses. Though a tribal woman, she has the traits of a city-bred one. Ama Ata Aidoo uses an old couple, known in the play as THE-MOUTH-THAT-EATS-SALT-AND-PEPPER, to present crucial points in the play and give their own views on the events in the play. These two argue and ask that in spite of the world becoming a global village, is it acceptable to just throw our customs and traditions out of the window without costly repercussions? The play forces us to think about universal issues such as gender roles, effects of colonization, child-bearing in our different societies and consequences of the lack thereof, and more importantly, the choices we make and how they affect others.