Myths, traditions and mothers of the nation: some thoughts on Efua Sutherland's writing - an essay

Simoes da Silva, Tony (2005) Myths, traditions and mothers of the nation: some thoughts on Efua Sutherland's writing - an essay. EnterText, 4 (2). pp. 254-270.

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[Extract] Focusing in some detail on three of her plays, this paper addresses the work of Efua Theodora Sutherland, arguably one of Ghana’s foremost literary figures, and one of Africa’s most influential dramatists. Specifically, the paper proposes that in spite of a considerable body of critical work devoted to her writing, she remains surprisingly little known outside the specialist fields of African literature, and indeed even theatre. I will then seek to relate this assertion to her status as a woman writer in Africa, and to the challenges her conflation of traditional African cultural forms and Western dramaturgy create. Sutherland incorporates Greek theatre (Edufa overtly reworks Euripides’ Alcestis) with African oral story telling, myths, folktales (The Marriage of Anasewa draws on Anasegoro, a Ghanaian dramatic form) and the printed word (the use of the bookshop in Foriwa) as the parts that give rise to a new culture, in a new Ghana. According to Chikewenye Okonjo Ogunyemi, through her writing, with its overt use of forms and traditions of yesteryear, Sutherland “comments on the present, showing that human nature has not changed; she is, however, determined to change the inhuman situation in Ghana and, by extension, the African world.”1 James Gibbs, in what remains possibly the most thorough scholarly note on her work and its autobiographical nature, has pointed out that from an early age Sutherland was exposed to the “Athenian tradition,”2 as a student in missionary institutions. Gibbs highlights the interface in her upbringing between these influences and those of her daily life in the Ghana of the twentieth century. After her return to Ghana, she became involved in the creation of a “Writers’ Society” (in 1957) which again thrived in “the mixture of cultures that had long flourished in towns near the coast, such as Cape Coast, Sekondi, and Takoradi.”3

Item ID: 14011
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1472-3085
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Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2010 01:27
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2005 Literary Studies > 200599 Literary Studies not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9403 International Relations > 940399 International Relations not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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