Friday, March 2, 2012

NEW LIFE AT KYEREFASO: BY EFUA T. SUTHERLAND

BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: EFUA THEODOA SUTHERLAND

·         Born in Cape Coast on July 1924 and died at the age of 72 on 21st January, 1996.
·         She started her primary education at the Government Girl’s School and later moved to St. Monica’s both in Cape Coast.
·         She went to Homerton College where she studied for her B.A degree. She later specialized in English Linguistics and African Languages and Drama at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.
·         Sutherland is mostly recognised for her plays but she also made tremendous impact as a poet, children’s author, researcher and a cultural visionary.
·         As a dramatist, she recognised the significance of Ghanaian oral tradition as a tool for developing an authentic Ghanaian theatre. It is through her pioneering research in Ghanaian oral traditions that Sutherland developed Anansegoro, a unique dramatic form into the Ghanaian theatrical milieu.
·         As part of her commitment to the use of oral materials in written Ghanaian literature, Sutherland developed the Atwia Experimental Community Project, popularly known as Kodzidan (Story House) in Ekumfi-Atwia. This project has been recognised as a model for Theatre for Development.
·         According to Anne Adams, Sutherland was a pathfinder Mother from achronlogical as well as an aesthetic point of view. Her works forms part of the foundation on which contemporary production of written literature by Africans rests.
·         The artistic commitment tp preserving traditional Ghanaian forms in verbal arts while borrowing also from Western conventions is a hallmark of her oeuvre.
·         Sutherland’s works experiment with dramatic forms, especially the art of storytelling from indigenous Ghanaian traditions. Her works depict the skill with which she transforms the traditional folktale convention into modern dramatic theatre teachniques. Her works include: Edufa, the Marriage of Anasewa, Foriwa, New Life at Kyerefaso, Vulture Vulture.
·         Her works are motivated by a vision of a better society. Thus, her themes are purposely designed to gear society towards a better future.

HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF NEW LIFE AT KYEREFASO

·         The story is set in newly independent Ghana.
·         After independence, it became clear that it will be difficult to attain whatever we desired for after attaining the political kingdom.
·         It became expedient to call on all Ghanaians not to depend so much on the glory of being the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to attain independence but to work to ensure the development of the new nation.
·         After, independence, it became clear that ethnic tendencies will be one of the challenges militating against the development of the new nation. It is line with this that Kwame Nkrumah promulgated the Avoidance of Discrimination Act (ADA) in 1957 which prohibited the establishment of political parties based on regional, tribal, ethnic and sectarian lines. Thus the NLM, Ga Standfast Party, the N.P.P, Togoland Congress Party were banned. These came together to form the United Party (U.P) under the joint leadership of K.A Busia of the N.L.M and S. D. Dombo of the N.P.P
·         The problem of ethnicity can be traced to the colonial times. After independence certain groups felt discriminated against. The people of Northern Ghana felt discriminated against because of the negative connotation associated with the people of Northern Region as a result of the slave trade and colonial policies. Note the Akan word ntafo/otani which carries derogatory overtones from the days of the slave trade.


THE STORY

The story picks its material from the Disobedient Daughter Tale in the oral traditions. The beginning of the story suggests influence from the Akan story telling aesthetic. New Life can be described as short-story-in-folktale-form. The story is a radical portrayal of the assertive young woman. Sutherland’s exploits the conventions of the archetypal figure (THE DISOBEDIENT DAUGHTER) for her purpose. Sutherland exploits the Disobedient Daughter Tale to achieve three main purposes

·         To emphasise the role of women in the development of post-independent Ghana
·         To explain the role of women as tools of cultural transformation
·         To present the role of women in eschewing the canker of ethnicity in the new Ghana.

To achieve her aim, she critiques three aspects of the social fabric of Kyerefaso: 

·          The expectations imposed upon a marriageable young woman
·         The community’s perceptions of a Ghanaian citizen who comes from a place outside their region
·      The degenerated homage paid to the past glories by a people who no longer live up to the ethnic achievements in which they take hereditary pride.

THEMATIC CONCERNS IN THE PLAY
The theme of rebirth/regeneration
·         The issue of the relevance, retention and reform of communial ritual is crucial to the work.

·         The metaphor for revisiting or revision of the ceremonies is some form of rebirth or regeneration.  The significance of this theme can be seen in the title New Life... This theme is linked to the three issues discussed above and the three major issues satirised in the text.
 
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