Author Profile - Vida Ayitah


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.

Five Questions with Vida Ayitah:

1. Who are your favourite poets? Which poets have most inspired you and informed your work?

Mr. Kobena Eyi Acquah (Ghana), Ms. Erica Jong (USA).

2. What do you hope to accomplish with your poetry?

To inspire people to get in touch with their inner beings. Poetry is such a sensual and emotional thing. We live each day on emotions and senses and it’s my hope that my work can make people identify something within themselves.

3. What is your opinion on the state of African poetry today?

Well, I think more markets should be created for African poetry. There are so many unknown poets in Ghana today, for instance, young people with great talents who have no avenues to showcase their work. The beauty of African poetry is that it tells a great deal about the African culture, our hopes and dreams. Reading just one poem is like reading a bit of history. The African mind is rich with the voices of the past.

4. What do you think needs to be done to promote and strengthen poetry in Africa?

The following steps can be taken to promote and strengthen poetry in Africa: organize workshops for writers, starting from the local scene, create a platform where writers meet and discuss their work, establish poetry magazines to feature new poets (like One Ghana, One Voice) and perhaps a market should me made available to sell and promote our work, thus encouraging us to be more passionate and dedicated to our work.

5. "Mama" can be read as being very critical of the perceived role of women in Ghanaian society. In this sense, do you consider it to be a political poem?

I never thought that ‘Mama’ could be seen as being political in regards to women in our society. The whole idea of the poem was to put across the fact that maybe our mothers should focus on the happiness and welfare of their children rather than on expanding the family tree.

Contact Vida:



LS said...

Okay, this is a rather long post.

In a way this is about how different plp approach the same piece of work. Some start and end with the phrase well done, others read the work differently. Occasionally someone calls our attention to ways in which he/she thinks the poem could have done better. There is nothing wrong in that, nothing frightening in that. What we’re doing is bringing a range of readings to the poem, and the poet has no obligation to listen to that (probably) lone voice.

On the surface, this is a poem about obeying our mothers. It is also a poem about how we are all bound by tradition, and the consequences as Prince noted earlier. The persona does not question the mother’s wishes, and the mother in turn does not exactly tell her daughter where to look for a man. It was the persona’s decision to settle for a man she found in a night club, unsurprising, since it is young plp who frequent nightclubs. The persona (and I do not mean the poet) later decides to blame her mother without looking at her own contribution to her situation. It is possible that she may one day ask her children to do the same.

This poem is a morality tale about how far our allegiance to authority and tradition can take us. We can take a philosophical position on this and stretch it a bit further. Does anyone remember Okonkwo’s decision to join in the killing of the boy Ikemefuna? Okonkwo was only following the oracle’s advice, when he killed the boy. That decision led to Okonkwo’s downfall. Near the beginning of the book, Achebe tells us that Okonkwo was driven by fear, the fear of rejection, and numerous other fears. That man was a bundle of fears.

Like Okonkwo, the two women in the above poem are each driven by their own fears. The mother wants her daughter to prove herself since a woman’s worth is determined by her ability to have children. The daughter would like to please her mother, maybe to get her off her back.

As for titles, they may broadly suggest the subject matter, but not necessarily dictate the direction the work takes. If anyone looks again at the poems titled Abiku, one by Pepper Clark, the other by Soyinka, could any one tell, if apart from the title, they bring the same gaze to the subject of spirit children?

Here’s what Senanu and Vincent (A Selection of African Poetry) have to say about those two poems:

In Clark’s poem a very human attitude is adopted, the abiku is recognised for what he is among the people and is begged to stay to end the agony of the mother. Soyinka’s attitude is completely different. … It is the abiku that speaks … and his whole demeanour and tone are chilling and demoralising, almost satiric.

You couldn’t predict that just from the title, and Soyinka and Clark seem to have done quite a number of poems like that.

Cheers everyone.

PS Today is National Poetry Day in Britain

Unknown said...

LS, you capture the essence of literary criticism in such a succinct manner.

I do appreciate your clarity of thought and depth of analysis.

You and Darko Antwi give us ample reasons to put pen to paper, even when self-motivation ebbs.

Thank you for your dedication to the progress of literary interests in our society.

Thank you, Vida, for the gift of a thought-provoking poem.