Vida was born on July 19th, 1978 in a small farming community in the Volta Region. She has three sisters and one brother. She is currently living and working in Accra. She enjoys music and dancing as much as she does writing.
Editor's note: Vida has recently released her first collection, Pieces of Myself. At this point it is only available in the U.S., so if you live there be sure to grab a copy! An excerpt from the book can be read here.
Five Questions with Vida Ayitah:
1. Do you think it is inevitable that young people will stray from a good path? If not, how can it be avoided? Or should it be seen not as something to be avoided, but instead as a necessary part of growing up?
Young people, even the ‘best’ kids will stray off the good path, if just a few times. It’s inevitable. The only thing adults and parents can to do to prevent total or fatal pitfalls is to set boundaries. Let the children know that no matter how bright they claim to be, the parents still know better.
2. Do you feel that your generation has been a success thus far? In other words, do you think you have overcome the struggles and pitfalls of youth, or have they dragged you down?
I think that two decades ago, children had more respect for the adults. We knew what boundaries were and were content enough to have what our parents provided us with. Sure we had struggles and did in fact rebel in various ways but we knew not to overdo it. What today’s youth lack is a total sense of fear for parents. There used to be a voice of authority in the house, which was observed without complaint. Punishment was given for wrong deeds. And our parents were able to keep us in line. What they taught us to be wrong, we observed as such. No questions asked. So I can say that the painful rod was our saving grace. Which cannot be said for today’s youth. I can’t really say if the problem with today’s youth is their supposed intelligence, or if parents have become too soft in dealing with them.
3. More generally, where do you think Ghana, as a country, is in its own maturation process?
Ghana, as a country, is also struggling with its own maturity, what with outside influence and internal strife. But if the people continue to seek for the truth and fairness from the leaders, I believe that we would grow into a state our forefathers would be proud of. The road to this dream is rough and not pleasant (for some). But if the majority embarks and stays on the right path, we will, eventually, become a nation that the outside world will see as having come a long way from where we are at present. And we ourselves can be sure of a better future that we look forward to with joy and peace, not fear.
4. In our first Roundtable Discussion you made this sharp observation: "Personally, the only way I think poetry can be used as a medium to reach politicians is to feed it to them before they go into serious politics." In practice, how do you think this can be done? And how does it connect to the problems explored in "Youngsters"?
We have to go back to when parents were parents and educated their children the right way. The sense of right and wrong has to be instilled into young minds so that they grow up into respectable, honest adults. The rod wasn’t spared two decades ago. Children didn’t know better than their parents. Just as our parents didn’t claim superior knowledge to their parents. For the already grown-up, corrupt minds, the only hope for positive change is for them to see the rest of the country changing around them. I don’t think anybody wants to be left standing alone, holding on to bourgeois claims when no one is listening or watching or even supporting.
Ok, maybe some of our present leaders and parents don’t know how to teach the young ones better than they know, in which case it is up to the youth to stand up for themselves and demand change. After all, today’s youth are the leaders of the future. It is up to us to determine what kind of future we want for ourselves and for our country, Ghana.
5. You were one of One Ghana, One Voice's first featured poets. Has your writing changed at all in the months since then? If so, how?
Well, I certainly write more, daring to go into areas I had previously been too unstable to attempt. I have learned to let go my work to be viewed by the public, and have come out with my first published book. I think the biggest thing to have happened to me since I came to One Ghana, One Voice is the belief in myself and in my work. Because OGOV provides an avenue for the readers to criticize and offer their views on the written word, I have the back-up assurance that I can, indeed, write.
Vida's Past Profiles:
March 31st-April 6th, 2007
May 12th - 18th, 2007