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Ghana beyond aid: Ama Ata Aidoo’s take on Africa’s reliance on foreign aid

Ghana has just lost one of its brilliant literary minds and storytelling virtuosos, Professor Ama Ata Aidoo. After dedicating over 50 years of her 81-year life to her craft, the renowned author passed away on Wednesday, May 31, 2023.

Throughout her extensive body of work, including notable pieces like “The Dilemma of a Ghost” (her first play) and “Our Sister Killjoy” (her debut novel), the late Professor consistently advocated for African values and reflected on the essence of being African.

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The Dilemma of a Ghost

In an unearthed interview following her passing, Ama Ata Aidoo boldly expressed her discontent with African leaders’ continuous dependency on foreign assistance. When asked if she considered aid to be a form of new colonization, her response was unequivocal: “Of course.”

Ama Ata Aidoo 1

Ama Ata Aidoo harboured deep concern over Africa’s failure to harness its abundant resources in a productive manner, opting instead to repeatedly turn to its former colonial powers for financial aid in times of need.

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What truly vexed her was the realization that these aid providers had amassed their wealth through the unabashed exploitation of Africa’s precious resources.

Drawing on a proverb from her own Akan culture, she conveyed the message that aid can never satiate no matter its frequency.

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“You know, my people, the Akans, we have a proverb which says ‘Good morning, thank you is never enough to sought anybody’s food forever.’ You cannot build your life on thank you. We are always receiving,” she said.

Ama Ata Aidoo 2

Ama Ata Aidoo emphasized that African leaders cannot perpetually beg for “leftovers” because “nobody anywhere in this world is going to send you their best of anything.”

While she acknowledged the importance of aid to some extent, she firmly believed that a continent as vast and capable as Africa should not constantly stoop to such levels of reliance on foreign aid.

“You give us what you can afford. Aid is the leftover and it cannot be enough. Now the world is one place. There is nothing wrong, if my house is in crisis, and you offered me something, there is nothing wrong because there is interrelationship. But a whole nation, a whole continent cannot live forever on aid,” she bemoaned.

“We are in danger of making foreign aid a kind of policy. That is wrong,” she cautioned, adding that “it humiliates our people.”

According to Ama Ata Aidoo, the leaders themselves should be held accountable, as “the people in the villages have not asked anybody to go round begging on their behalf.”

Meanwhile, the Ghanaian government is currently grappling with the realization of its vision for “Ghana beyond aid.” The West African nation has sought assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the 17th time to revive its struggling economy.

In addition, the IMF staff and Zambian authorities have reached an agreement on economic policies as part of the first review of the 38-month ECF-supported program. Once approved by IMF Management and formally completed by the IMF Executive Board, Zambia will have access to approximately US$188 million in financing.


Furthermore, the Ivorian authorities and IMF staff have reached a staff-level agreement on economic policies and reforms, paving the way for a new 40-month arrangement of about US$3.5 billion under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF)/Extended Credit Facility (ECF).

These are some examples of the many occasions when African countries have requested various forms of aid from major global economies.

Ama Ata Aidoo’s thought-provoking views continue to challenge Africa’s relationship with foreign aid, raising crucial questions about the continent’s autonomy and self-reliance.

Source: The Independent Ghana

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