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Profile of Prof. Kofi Anyidoho

 

Poet, literary scholar, educator, and cultural activist, Kofi Anyidoho is currently on post-retirement contract as Professor of Literature in the English Department, University of Ghana-Legon. He has been Director of the CODESRIA African Humanities Institute Program, Ag. Director of the School of Performing Arts, and Head of the English Department. He trained as a professional teacher at Accra Training College and the Advanced Teacher Training College-Winneba, and taught primary, middle and secondary school before joining the university faculty. Outside the university, he has been deeply involved in various initiatives designed to promote African culture and history, among them Ghana Television's African Heritage Series, for which he was the main host and executive producer. He holds a B.A. Honours in English & Linguistics [University of Ghana-Legon], an M.A. in Folklore [Indiana University-Bloomington] and a PhD in Comparative Literature [University of Texas at Austin].

His published creative works include five collections of poetry: Elegy for the Revolution (1978), A Harvest of Our Dreams (1984, 1993), EarthChild (1985), AncestralLogic & CaribbeanBlues (1993), and PraiseSong for TheLand (2002). PraiseSong for TheLand was released with a companion CD recording of the poems and with songs in Ewe performed by the poet. He has also published Akpokplo (a play in Ewe and Engilsh: 1977, 1997) and GhanaNya and Agbenoxevi, CD & Cassette recordings of his poetry in Ewe. GhanaNya presents Anyidoho as a singer-poet whose voice alternates with that of his late mother, Abla Adidi Anyidoho, herself a poet-cantor in the Ewe oral tradition. Two new collections, SeedTime -Selected Poems and The Place We Call Home, as well as The Phone Call, a dramatic monologue for children, are forthcoming. Well known for his unique style of performance poetry, he has lectured and performed his poetry in several countries across the world.

As a literary scholar, Anyidoho has published several journal articles and book chapters, and has edited a number of major books on African literature and culture, among them Interdisciplinary Dimensions of African Literature [jointly with Porter, Racine & Spleth]; The Fate of Vultures: an anthology of entries from the 1988 BBC "Arts and Africa" Poetry Award [jointly with Peter Porter and Musaera Zimunya]; The Word Behind Bars & The Paradox of Exile; Beyond Survival: African Literature and the Search for New Life [jointly with Anne Adams & Abena Busia]; and FonTomFrom: Contemporary Ghanaian Literature, Theater & Film [jointly with James Gibbs]; Composition and Transmission of Musical Forms in Africa [jointly with Kofi Agawu, in press CODESRIA-Dakar]; Re-appraising the Social Sciences and the Humanities from African Perspectives: An Annotated Anthology. Volumes I & II, jointly edited with Helen Lauer, Accra: Sub-Saharan Publishers [In press].

He has served on the editorial/advisory boards of various journals, including Journal of the Faculty of Arts (Legon), Research Review (Legon), The New Legon Observer (as Chairman), Marang (University of Botswana), Journal of Folklore Research (Indiana University-Bloomington), GEFAME: a Web-Based Journal of African Studies (University of Michigan), Research in African Literatures (Ohio State University), and SKASE Journal of Literary Studies (Slovak Association for the Study of English).

Anyidoho is a past President of the US-based African Literature Association [1998-99], and has served on numerous boards and committees, including The University of Ghana Council, the National Commission on Culture, the National Theatre Board, National Folklore Board of Trustees, Management Committee on Copyright Administration, the W.E.B. DuBois Memorial Centre for Pan African Culture Board of Directors, International Advisory Board - Commonwealth Writers Prize, Board of Directors - PANAFEST, Advisory Board Institute of Comparative Literature & Society, Columbia University. He is also a member of the CODESRIA Executive Committee and was recently appointed Chairman of the Board of Governors, National Film and Television Institute [NAFTI].

Anyidoho has won many prizes for his poetry, including the Valco Fund Literary Award, the Fania Kruger Fellowship for Poetry of Social Vision, the Langston Hughes Prize, the Davidson Nichol Prize, and the BBC Arts and Africa Poetry Award, Le grand Prix de poesie en langue nationale [Ewe]. Other distinctions include: Visiting Professor, Barnard College, Columbia University; Visiting Distinguished McLean Professor of English, Colorado College; Distinguished Visiting Cornell Professor [Black Studies, Theater, English], Swarthmore College; Ford Foundation Writer-in-Residence, Center for Comparative Literature & Society - Columbia University, New York City; Excellency Visiting Professor, El Colegio de Mexico, Mexico City; Golden Jubilee Distinguished Scholar Award for Outstanding Contributions to African Literature, Faculty of Arts, University of Ghana; Honorary Fellow, International Writing Program, University of Iowa; Julius Nyerere/Anna Julia Cooper Presidential Award for Outstanding Scholarship and Service in the African Global Community and Contributions to the Promotion and Development of Black Studies [National Council for Black Studies, Inc., USA.]; Rockefeller Foundation Humanities Fellow, Cornell University; Distinguished Membership Award [for outstanding service to the African Literature Association and for contributions to scholarship and the teaching of African Literature]]; Bashorun M.K.O.Abiola Distinguished Lecturer, African Studies Association, 47th Annual Meeting, New Orleans. He is a Fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences.