Ayi Kwei Armah

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Ayi Kwei Armah

Ayi Kwei Armah (* 1939 in Sekondi-Takoradi , Ghana ) is a Ghanaian writer and publisher who is considered to be one of the greatest literary talents after Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka . In novels, mostly narrated in fragments, he describes the disappointment with the corruption in his home country and the turmoil between the local and foreign way of life. Later, in novel-like depictions of African history, he sought ways to a new social order independent of Europe and America based on African traditions.


Armah was born in 1939 to Fante- speaking parents in the port city of Sekondi-Takoradi in southern Ghana. In 1959 he left his homeland to go to Massachusetts in the USA. After graduating from school there, he attended Harvard University and studied sociology. He then went to Algeria , where he worked as a translator for Revolution Africaine magazine . In 1964 he returned to Ghana, worked as a copywriter for Ghana Television and later as an English teacher at the Navrongo School. From 1967 to 1968 Armah was editor of Jeune Afrique magazine in Paris . From 1968 to 1970 he studied at Columbia University in New York, where he graduated with a degree in creative writing. Armah has lived in Dakar , ( Senegal ) since the 1980s , where he also works as a publisher. He has also taught at Teacher's College Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) and Amherst College , Amherst (Massachusetts) and at universities in Lesotho (South Africa) and Madison (Wisconsin) .

The beautiful are not yet born

Armah's first novel The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born from 1968, often praised as a masterpiece, saw four German editions between 1971 and 1999 in three different publishers. Author colleague Boubacar Boris Diop even describes it in a review for the Neue Zürcher Zeitung as an “epoch-making” work. While the novel with its merciless criticism of the corruption swamp in Ghana caused bitter reactions when it was published, the author's clairvoyance is becoming clear today. With the nameless protagonist, a minor railway official who tries to preserve his dignity in the midst of decay, an exemplary embodiment of the marginalized resistance has succeeded. The novel refuses any “aesthetic filter”, aiming for the essentials in unadorned, short, dry sentences. After all, from some of the “humiliated and insulted” speak a low voice of hope.


  • African Socialism: Utopian or Scientific , 1967 (Présense Africaine 64)
  • The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born , 1968 (dts. The beautiful ones are not yet born)
  • The Offal Kind , 1969 (short stories)
  • Fragments , 1970 - Pirstaleita (suom. Seppo Loponen)
  • Why Are We So Blest? , 1972 - Mistä meille tämä armo? (suom. Seppo Loponen)
  • Two Thousand Seasons , 1973
  • The Healers , 1978
  • The Caliban Complex , 1985 (West Africa, March 18 and 25)
  • The Festival Syndrome , 1985 (West Africa, April 15)
  • Dakar Hieroglyphics , 1986 (West Africa, May 19)
  • Doctor Kamikaze , 1989 (short stories)
  • Osiris Rising , 1995
  • Hieroglyphics for Babies , 2002 (with Aboubacry Mousa Lam)
  • KTM: In the House of Life , 2002


  • Robert Fraser: The Novels of Ayi Kwei Armah: A Study in Polemical Fiction , London, Heinemann, 1980.
  • Derek Wright: Ayi Kwei Armah's Africa: The Sources of His Fiction , London, Zell, 1989.
  • Neil Lazarus: Resistance in Postcolonial African Fiction , New Haven, Yale University Press, 1990.
  • Derek Wright: Critical Perspectives on Ayi Kwei Armah , Washington DC, Three Continents, 1992.
  • K. Damodar Rao: The Novels of Ayi Kwei Armah , New Delhi, Prestige, 1993.
  • Olawale Awosika: Form and Technique in the African Novel , Ibadan, Nigeria, Sam Bookman, 1997.
  • Olawale Awosika: Ayi Kwei Armah: The Telling of the Way , Benin City, Nigeria, Ambik Press, 1997.
  • Tommie L. Jackson: The Existential Fiction of Ayi Kwei Armah, Albert Camus, and Jean-Paul Sartre , Lanham, Maryland, University Press of America., 1997
  • Mala Pandurang: Post-Colonial African Fiction: The Crisis of Consciousness , Delhi, Pencraft International, 1997.
  • Ode S. Ogede: Ayi Kwei Armah, Radical Iconoclast: Pitting Imaginary Worlds Against the Actual , Westport, Connecticut, Heinemann, 1999.

Individual evidence

  1. Simon Gikandi : Encyclopedia of African Literature . Taylor & Francis, London 2003, ISBN 978-1-134-58223-5 , pp. 38–42 (English, full text in Google Book Search).
  2. May 27, 2000

Web links