203. Diplomatic Pounds and Other Stories by Ama Ata Aidoo

Diplomatic Pounds and Other Stories (Ayebia Clarke 2012; 170) by Ama Ata Aidoo is a collection of twelve beautifully written short stories, which confirms the author’s position as a foremost writer in Africa and beyond. Treating everyday subject with unique perspectives and a delicate style that she alone possesses, Aidoo opens up old traditions and questions long-held views with fresh views. Whether it is about the story of a woman who leaves the country of her birth swearing never to return or the story of a group of girls trapped in an alien culture where issues of feminine proportions are at variance with what they had grown up with, Aidoo shows that her sense of observation is as sharp as ever and that there is tradition in every situation that could be questioned.

New Lessons, the first story in the collection, provided the platform to question, subtly as in most of the stories, the idea of home and the motive of migration. Most at times, people who leave the shores of the continent swear fire and brimstone never to return only to do so in their old age. They castigate their country of birth for its backwardness; lambast its leaders, but stay away from its development. This has become the characteristics of most economic émigrés. On the other hand, these migrants soon realise that in their new countries, long-acquired tastes and behaviours must be shed, if they are to fit in. For instance, women realise that being described as ‘fat with well-rounded buttocks’ is no more a statement of commendation than one that requires attention. Like in Benjamin Kwakye’s The Other Crucifix, where a young academic émigré had to separate from his fiancée back home in order to acquire one of the much fancied flat-bottomed girls. These sudden changes cause these émigrés to quickly adopt the required lifestyles capable of ‘making them fit’, throwing those who are unable to cope into psychosis like some of the girls in Mixed Messages. This psychosis was more pronounced, albeit in a different circumstance, in the life of the protagonist in the title story, Diplomatic Pounds. In this story, a woman becomes psychotic in her later life – acquiring hundreds of bathroom scales – after amassing pounds of weight when she followed her ambassadorial father to parties and other functions.

I reviewed this for Business world. Read the rest here.

[1] Improverbs: Improvised proverbs.

About the author: Professor Ama Ata Aidoo, née Christina Ama Aidoo (born 23 March 1942, Saltpond) is a Ghanaian author, playwright and academic. She grew up in a Fante royal household, the daughter of Nana Yaw Fama, chief of Abeadzi Kyiakor, and Maame Abasema. She was sent by her father to theWesley Girls' High School in Cape Coast from 1961 to 1964. The headmistress of Wesley Girls bought her her first typewriter. After leaving high school, she enrolled at the University of Ghana in Legon and received her bachelor of arts in English as well as writing her first play, The Dilemma of a Ghost, in 1964. The play was published by Longman the following year, making Aidoo the first published African woman dramatist.

She worked in the United States of America where she held a fellowship in creative writing at Stanford University. She also served as a research fellow at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, and as a Lecturer in English at the University of Cape Coast, eventually rising there to the position of Professor. (Source)


  1. I must get this book.
    It probably has a story or two that I can identify with LoL.
    Ama Ata-Aidoo's stamp of approval on these stories is a big deal. I loved Anowa (oh Kofi Ako!) & Dilemma of a Ghost.

    1. you definitely should. Like I said, the stories are relatable.

  2. Looks like an important book I can't pass by. I followed up with the full review and your discussions on the stories had me thinking... Thanks as always, Nana.


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