Read African Writers — The Marriage of Anansewa and Edufa: Two Plays by Efua Sutherland

marriage of anansewa and edufaghanaIn 1967, Ghanaian playwright Efua T. Sutherland published Edufa, a play in which the title character, Edufa, seeks to ward off death but accidentally causes his wife Ampoma’s death instead. (There’s a nice synopsis of the play on p53-54 of Nugah’s study.) The story echoes the Greek myth of Alcestis, although I was reminded of at least one aspect of Stephen King’s novel Thinner. I was struck by Ampoma’s speech: “We spent most of our days preventing the heart from beating out its greatness. The things we would rather encourage lie choking among the weeds of our restrictions. And before we know it, time has eluded us. There is not much time allotted us, and half of that we sleep. While we are awake we should allow our hearts to beat without shame of being seen living.”

In 1975, Sutherland published The Marriage of Anansewa, in which Ananse — father of the title character — promises his daughter to four men in order to collect their gifts but then must figure out a way to escape the dilemma. Ananse (or Anansi) stories play a large role in Ghanaian folklore. It’s a fun tale with a clever trickster at the heart of it. As the narrator recommends at the end, “Whether you found it interesting or not, do take parts of it away, leaving parts of it with me.”

I enjoyed reading these two plays (published together), and I recommend reading more about Sutherland’s life as a cultural figure and child right’s advocate here.

This is book #16 in my effort to read a book by an author from every African country in 2019.

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