Ghanaian Novelist - Amma Darko
I am first and foremost a storyteller who feels inspired to create stories out of pertinent issues. As an African woman also, I feel inclined toward working around female issues. I don't know where that places me in the writing world's classifications, but I definitely do have some reservations about carrying the tag of 'feminist writer'. The context in which the Western world perceives the term does not prevail here. Feminism is sort of placed in a tight and narrow square box. One perceived or labeled as a feminist whatever, is judged to be this aggressive man-hater who at best is a lesbian and who can be as worse as a butcher of masculinity. I tell stories and comment on situations. I would be completely satisfied to be perceived simply as a voice.
The name "Amma" means Saturday born. It is common in Ghana to name a child after the day it was born. Amma Darko was born in Tamale in 1956. From Northern Ghana, she moved years later to the Ashanti Region. She studied at the university of Kumasi, where she received her diploma in 1980. Afterwards she worked for the Technology Consultancy Centre.
Then, in 1981, she travelled to Germany. Now she is living in Accra, the Ghanaian capital. She is working as tax inspector. This work gives her a of inspiration because she deals with interesting cases and people. She is married and has three children, so all together there is not as much time for writing as she would like to have.
On Her Writing
ImageDarko had always loved books, but books were hard to find when she was growing up. She especially missed books about the experience of ordinary people living in contemporary Ghana. She chose a radical solution to her problem - to write those books.
Her first novel was published in Germany under the title Der Verkaufte Traum (Schmetterling Verlag, 1991) and consequently in English as Beyond the Horizon (Heinemann, 1995). It is the story of a Ghanaian woman who finds herself in a German brothel through a marriage fraud. The book was ranked among the Top Twelve of the 1995 Feminist Book Festival in Britain. Her second novel, The Housemaid (Heinemann, 1998), explores the complex relationships in contemporary rural Ghana where modernity, delivered through the media, increasingly penetrates tradition, but finds little nurturing soil for lack of education.
Her third novel, Faceless (Sub-Saharan Publishers, 2003) tells the story of street children in contemporary Accra. With a sense for naturalistic detail and humour, Darko explores the vicious circle created by the worst injustice while placing the story into a larger socio-political context.
...People Africa Database...
Interview on the book 'Beyond the Horizon'
Citation: Darko, Amma. “ Beyond the Horizon: Feminist Urges and Faceless Women?” E-mail to Patrick K. Muana. 21 July 2003.
Patrick Muana: Do you consider yourself and your writing feminist? Why/why not?
ImageAmma Darko: I am first and foremost a storyteller who feels inspired to create stories out of pertinent issues. As an African woman also, I feel inclined toward working around female issues. I don't know where that places me in the writing world's classifications, but I definitely do have some reservations about carrying the tag of 'feminist writer'. The context in which the Western world perceives the term does not prevail here. Feminism is sort of placed in a tight and narrow square box. One perceived or labeled as a feminist whatever, is judged to be this aggressive man-hater who at best is a lesbian and who can be as worse as a butcher of masculinity. I tell stories and comment on situations. I would be completely satisfied to be perceived simply as a voice.
Patrick Muana: In Beyond the Horizon, do you set out to challenge male hegemony as you see it in various permutations of Ghanaian society?
Amma Darko: I didn't set out to do any such thing; at least not deliberately. I created a story out of an issue and within the context that I chose to tell it, the characters happened to be who they are. My stories most of the time, reflect the reality and male hegemony is a reality which manifests in various ways and forms in different cultures, societies and situations. The Ghanaian woman lives with this her way.
Patrick Muana: What is your personal attitude to Mara? Is she representative of...? Or is Mara just Mara - a woman character in your text?
Amma Darko: When Beyond... came out in German, many assumed it to be my personal experience. When they got to know Amma Darko and realised that I couldn't be Mara, they set out on a search hunt for who Mara was in reality. I felt flattered somehow to have created a story that seemed so real that people felt it simply had to be a particular someone's real life story. Mara is just Mara: a woman character in my story. She does not embody any one woman's life...though she could be; who knows? But I think that every aspect of her reflects someone's disposition and real life experience.
Hope I made some sense.
My book 'FACELESS' would be launched here next month.
1. Beyond the Horizon (Der verkaufte Traum), 1991
2. Spinnweben, 1996 ("Cobwebs"; no English version)
3. Verirrtes Herz, 2000 ("Stray heart"; no English version)
4. Faceless (Die Gesichtslosen), 2003
5. Film based on 'Faceless' gets award
6. Roaming Around, Germany 2007, 53 min – A German team produced a film based on the novel "Faceless". Eva Maschke (camera) and Dominique Geisler (cut) were awarded the German Camera Prize 2007.
7. Not without Flowers (Das Lächeln der Nemesis), 2006
"Not without Flowers" is now available in English. If you are interested, please contact Sub-Saharan publishers:
Sub-Saharan Publishers, P.O.Box LG 358, Legon-Accra, Ghana, West Africa, Tel: 233-21-233371, Fax: 233-21-234251
The Housemaid (Das Hausmädchen), 1998
Watch Amma Darko in a Reading Session
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