Former Chaiman of the Council of State, Prof. Kofi Awoonor has been killed in Saturday's shooting incident at a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya.
Prof. Awoonor died from gun shot wounds in the stomach during an attack on the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi which Somali militant group Al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for.
He was in Nairobi as a guest speaker for a conference. Professor Awoonor left his hotel with his son who drove him to the mall to have breakfast together when the fatal incident occurred.
Ghana’s High Commission in Kenya has confirmed Prof. Awoonor’s untimely passing and indicated that his son who also sustained injuries in the attack, survived and is currently responding to treatment.
Government has issued a statement describing the death of the former Council of State Chairman as regrettable, and has extended condolences to the family and Ghanaians at large for this tragic loss.
Prof Kofi Awoonor was born in Ghana on 13 March 1935 when it was still called the Gold Coast. He was a poet and author whose work combined the poetic traditions of his native Ewe people, contemporary religious symbolism to depict Africa during the era of decolonisation. He taught African literature at the University of Ghana. He started writing under the name George Awoonor-Williams. While at the University of Ghana, he wrote his first poetry book, Rediscovery. Like the rest of his work, Rediscovery is based on African oral poetry.
In Ghana he managed the Ghana Film Corporation and founded the Ghana Play House. He then studied literature at the University of London, and while in England, he wrote several radio plays for the BBC. He spent the early 1970s in the United States, studying and teaching at universities. While in the USA, he wrote This Earth, My Brother, and My Blood.
Prof Kofi Awoonor returned to Ghana in 1975 as head of the English department at the University of Cape Coast. Within months, he was arrested for helping a soldier accused of trying to overthrow the military government and was imprisoned without trial. After ten months, he was found not guilty and released. The house by the Sea is about his time in jail. After imprisonment Awoonor became politically active and has written mostly nonfiction.
From 1990 to 1994 Awoonor was Ghana’s Ambassador to the United Nations, where he headed the committee against apartheid.
He passed on to his maker on Saturday 21st September 2013.
Some of his masterpieces are as follows:
Rediscovery and Other Poems (1964) Night of My Blood (1971) – poems that explore Awooner’s roots, and the impact of foreign rule in Africa The House By the Sea (1978) This Earth, My Brother (1971) Comes the Voyager at Last (1992) The Breast of the Earth: A Survey of the History, Culture, and Literature of Africa South of the Sahara (1975) A Political History from Pre-European to Modern Times (1990)