Dr Efua Theodora Sutherland (27 June 1924—2 January 1996) was a celebrated Ghanaian playwright, director, children's author, poet and pioneer dramatist of international renown. She was also an teacher, scholar, an unapologetic Pan-African cultural visionary and activist of ethnic Fante extraction. Before 1965 when the First President of the Republic of Ghana, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the famous Pan-African leader called for the documentation of “our folktales” as a way of creating “African Classics” for posterity (Nketia’s Preface to Owusu-Sarpong (1998)), Efua T. Sutherland emerged as one of the literary figures who identified the worth of “our folktales” and indeed modified one into a play about seven years earlier. She is the mother of  well-known prolific writer, cultural activist and academician, Esi Sutherland-Addy who is a professor at the Institute of African Studies (University of Ghana) working in the Language Literature and Drama Section.
Efua Theodora Sutherland,  celebrated Ghanaian playwright, director, children's author, poet , Pan African cultural activist and pioneer dramatist of international renown.

As one of the Africa`s early female writers, Efua Sutherland is internationally known literary works include Foriwa (1962), Edufa (1967), and The Marriage of Anansewa (1975). She has also published juvenile literature in the form of children’s rhythm plays such as Vulture, Vulture and Tahinta, which she has tried to use in her private grade school. Efua T Sutherland student was the legendary African writer, Professor Ama Ata Aidoo. In fact, when Ama Ata Aidoo studied drama at the University of Ghana in the early 1960s, her mentor was Sutherland.
Apart from Mabel Dove Danquah, born in 1910, who had started publishing essays , short stories, and plays in the West African Times as early as the 1950s to express her concern over the place and role of women in contemporary Ghana, Sutherland can be regarded as the mother of West African Literature in English. Donald Herdeck has called her “Black Africa’s most famous woman writer”. Even though her name has been dropped out by feminist critics like Florence Straton in her Contemporary African Literature and the Politics of Gender and Adola James’s In their Own Voices, for reasons that are not easy to explain, she is far from being an occasional writer. Her works are published in both Longman and Heineman Editions and her short stories are anthologised both at home and abroad. Her place in West African feminist literature is neither a matter of seniority over other authors such as Flora Nwappa, Ama Ata Aidoo, and Buchi Emecheta, nor that of amount of publications. She deserves a place in the West African literary tradition because she has earned it through that literary process of revision which T.S. Eliot considers as being necessary for the affirmation of individual talents and the existence of literary traditions. Charlotte H. Burner has rightly placed her in the third position, after Mabel Dove Danquah and Adelaide Casely-Hayford in her anthology of African woman writers entitled Unwinding Threads.
Sutherland's plays were often based on African myths and legends, but she also used Western sources, such as Euripides and Lewis Carroll.
"I'm on a journey of discovery. I'm discovering my own people.
 I didn't grow up in rural Ghana - I grew up in Cape Coast with
a Christian family. It's a fine family, but there are certain hidden
areas of Ghanaian life - important areas of Ghanaian life, that I
just wasn't in touch with; in the past four or five years I've made
a very concentrated effort to make that untrue. And I feel I know
my people now." (Efua Sutherland in Cultural Events in Africa, no. 42, 1968)
In her many years of being at the forefront of literary and theatrical movements in Ghana she founded the Ghana Drama Studio, the Ghana Society of Writers, the literary magazine Okyeame, the Ghana Experimental Theatre, and a community project called the Kodzidan (Story House) for the preservation of oral literature and the W.E.B. Du Bois Memorial Center for Pan African Culture. She was an influential figure in the establishment of modern Ghanaian theatre, and helped to establish the study of African performance traditions at university level.
Apart from her undying devotion to building indigenous models of excellence in culture and education, she served as mentor and inspiration to many notable African personalities in the arts and professions, including writer Ama Ata Aidoo, film maker Kwaw Ansah and writer-illustrator Meshak Asare.
Auntie Efua, as she was affectionately known, made children’s issues central to her life and work. After pioneering an indigenous movement in writing, publishing and development through drama for children, she was appointed in the 1980’s to lead Ghana to become the first country to ratify the U.N. Convention on the Declaration of Rights of the Child.  Through the work of the Ghana National Commission on Children, of which she was a founding member and Chair, several initiatives for children were moved forward including the Children’s Park Library Complex network,  Child Literacy and Mobile Science Laboratory projects, as well as the commissioning of extensive research on the Ghanaian child.
Her work received recognition from both the state and major agencies such as the Valco Trust Fund, the Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation, UNICEF and UNESCO. Other significant supporters included Arthur and Ruth Sloan, the Arthur and Dorothy Clift family of Bromley, UK, Dr. Vivian O. Windley, Merle Worth, the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, USA and the Children’s Television Network.
A twelve-acre space reserved for a children’s park in central Accra through the advocacy of Efua Sutherland was renamed posthumously in her honor. Efua Sutherlandstraat is one of a number of streets in an area of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, named for remarkable women writers and activists.
She was born Efua Theodora Morgue in Cape Coast on 27 June 1 924. She was named after her maternal great-grandmother Nana Ama Nyankomo. Her father, Harry Peter Morgue from the family of Chief Moore of Nsona Paado, Cape Coast, was a well-known teacher of English who once taught at Accra Academy. Her mother, Harriet Efua Maria Parker, was from the royal families of Gomua Brofo and Anomabu, particularly the branch founded by Barima Ansaful at Gyegyano, Cape Coast.
Despite her royal birth, Efua had a very humble and difficult early life; her eventual greatness may be more of a personal achievement than an inherited family fortune. Her young mother died in a
lorry accident at age 18, leaving 5-month old Efua in the care of her grandmother Araba Mansa,
whose personal sacrifice and example of hard work as a baker ensured Efua's survival and provided the single most important impact on her later development into a most resourceful personality.
Theodora Olivia Morgue, as Efua became known, began her primary education at the Government Girls School and later moved to St. Monica's, both in Cape Coast. She took the Standard Seven
examination while she was still in Standard Six, and did so well she won a scholarship to the St. Monica's Training College at Ansate Manpong. St Monica's was founded and run by Anglican Sisters of the Order of the Holy Paraclete, based in Yorkshire, England. The nuns in both Cape Coast and Mampong had such significant influence on the young Efua that she seriously considered becoming a nun and would have gone to England for convent training had her grandmother not intervened.
At 18, she began teaching at senior primary level but soon joined the staff of St. Monica's Training College. In 1947, after five-and-half years of teaching, she went to England where she studied for a B.A. degree at Homerton College, Cambridge University. She spent another year at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, specialising in English linguistics, African languages, and drama. Back in Ghana in 1950, she returned to St. Monica's but later transferred to Fijar Secondary School and then to Achimota School.
In 1954, Efua married William Sutherland, an African American who had been living in Ghana and worked from 1951 -57 to help found what is now Tsito Secondary School in the Volta Region. Efua spent part of the period in Tsito to help with the foundation work. Efua and Bill had three children, Esi Reiter, Ralph Gynan, and Muriel Amowi, who have since become a university research fellow, an architect, and a lawyer respectively.

    Professor Esi Sutherland-Addy, daughter of Dr Efua T Sutherland, the famous Ghanaian writer, dramatist and cultural activist.

Through achievements in culture Ghana also gained attention and prestige on the international scene. In the 1980s Sutherland served as advisor to the president of Ghana, Jerry Rawlings, who led a cop in 1981, and started economic reforms. Sutherland died on January 2, 1996.
It is against this family and educational background that we. must assess the unusual impact of Efua
Sutherland's public life as educator, creative artist, and activist social visionary. She is best known as a dramatist, but her work in this area was always informed by a compelling vision of a better society, and she chose appropriate cultural education as the best foundation on which such society could be established. Like many others, she could have used her considerable talents and skills in the promotion of a spectacular individual career. Instead, she chose to share her gifts with society at large by investing her energies in the building of model programmes and institutions, and in the
training of a future generation.
Sutherland, Bill (II) Biography
 Bill Sutherland husband of the famous Ghanaian writer, dramatist and cultural activist Efua T Sutherland. Bill Sutherland, was unofficial ambassador between the peoples of Africa and the Americas for over fifty years, died peacefully on the evening of January 2, 2010. He was 91. A life-long pacifist and liberation advocate, Sutherland became involved in civil rights and anti-war activities as a youthful member of the Student Christian Movement in the 1930s.

Efua Sutherland's reputation as the founder and mother figure behind the national theatre movement may best be measured by the many key institutions and programmes she was instrumental in bringing into being. She was the prime mover in the founding of the Ghana Society of Writers (1957). A year later, the Ghana Experimental Theatre Company was launched under her
direction. She helped to found the Okyeame literary magazine in 1961.
Through her pioneering research into Ghanaian oral traditions, she introduced onto the stage the unique dramatic form of Anansegoro, deriving its creative model from traditional story-telling drama. To provide an ideal rehearsal and performance space for the emerging national theatre movement, she mobilised funds and supervised the building of the Ghana Drama Studio, ensuring that its design was in harmony with performance demands of African theatre practice. She founded Kusum Agoromba, 'a full-time drama company based at the Drama Studio and dedicated to performing quality plays in Akan.... in towns and villages all over the country.' She provided creative leadership to the Workers' Brigade Drama Group and to the Drama Studio Players.
In May 1963, Efua Sutherland became a Research Associate of the Institute of African Studies. As part of the move, she handed over the Drama Studio to the University of Ghana to be issued as 'an extension division of the School of Music, Dance and Drama.' Through the Drama Studio Programme and the Drama Research Unit of the Institute, Efua Sutherland worked with the late Joe de Graft and others to build the foundations of what was soon to become a model programme in drama and theatre studies and practice in Africa One of her most frequently cited projects, the Atwia Experimental Community Theatre Project, is recognised world-wide as a pioneering model for the now popular Theatre for Development. Araba: The Village Story is a major documentary film done in 1 967 by the American television network ABC to record the success of this unique
experimental project.
Edufa by Efua T Sutherland

A particularly significant aspect of Efua Sutherland's work was the Children's Drama Development Project. This multi-year project focused on research into the cultural life of children in society, used the information gathered as a basis for writing, producing and publishing appropriate plays for children. Conferences, workshops and test productions organised as part of this project have left us with an important collection of plays for children, among them R.A. Cantey's Ghana Motion, Togbe Kwamuar's The Perpetual Stone Mill, Kwamena Ampah's Hwe No Yie, Koku Amuzu's The New Born Child and the Maid Servant, JoeManu-Amponsah's Gates to Mother, Kofi Hiheta's A Bench of Chances, and Kofi Anyidoho;s Akpokplo{Ewe and English). Regrettably, the preparation of these plays for formal publication in a major anthology is one of the many vital projects which Auntie Efua's death has left unfinished.
The 25th Anniversary Programme of the Drama Studio, the final phase of Efua Sutherland's distinguished career in the national theatre movement, coincided with her retirement from the University of Ghana in 1984. The programme opened with an impressive and symbolic Ceremony of Remembrance and moved into a major documentation project covering various forms of drama that have evolved as part of the national theatre movement The 25th Anniversary Programme, ironically, suffered a serious set-back when the Drama Studio was demolished to make way for the
construction of the National Theatre.
Although Auntie Efua was deeply hurt by the demolition of the studio, she continued to work over the next two years to bring the documentation programme to a reasonable completion. It was also in the final phase of her work that she gave to Ghana and the African world probably her grandest artistic vision for uplifting and reuniting African peoples through the arts- an original proposal for the Pan African Historical Theatre Festival, the Panafest Movement. This final gift underscores the significance she attached to connections between Africa and the Diaspora. She played a very critical role in the establishment of the W.E.B. DuBois Memorial Centre for Pan African Culture.
She belonged to an extensive global network of friends, many of them eminent creative minds.
Efua Sutherland's long and distinguished career had also left an impressive corpus of creative works, making her one of Africa's best known writers. In addition to a number of essays, articles, short stories and poems, her published works include a short biography of Bob Johnson, 'the father of the concert party tradition', as well as several other books—Playtime in Africa, The Roadmakers, Edufa, Foriwa, Odasani, Anansegoro: Story-Telling Drama in Ghana, The Marriage of Anansewa, You Swore an Oath, Vulture! Vulture! [and Tahinta]: Two Rhythm Plays, and The
Voice in the Forest. Her unpublished plays for children include The Pineapple Child, Nyamekye, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Ananse and the Dwarf Brigade, Wohye me Bo, and Children of
the Man-Made Lake.
Her best known plays are Edufa (1967) (based on Alcestis by Euripides), Foriwa (1967), and The Marriage of Anansewa (1975).
In Edufa the eponymous character seeks to escape death by manipulating his wife, Ampoma, to the death that has been predicted for him by oracles. In the play, Sutherland uses traditional Ghanaian beliefs in divination and the interaction of traditional and European ceremonies in order to portray Edufa as a rich and successful modern person who is held in high esteem by his people. The play uses traditional ritual and symbolism, but the story is told in the context of Edufa's capitalistic abandonment of his moral commitment to his wife, while his wife and the other women favour the morality of the past.
In Foriwa the eponymous character, who is the daughter of the queen mother of Kyerefaso, and Labaran, a graduate from northern Ghana who lives a simple life, bring enlightenment to Kyerefaso, a town that has become backward and ignorant because the town's elders refuse to learn new ways. Foriwa's main theme is the alliance of old traditions and new ways. The play has a national theme to promote a new national spirit in Ghana that would encourage openness to new ideas and inter-ethnic cooperation.
The Marriage of Anansewa: A Storytelling Drama (1975) is considered Sutherland's most valuable contribution to Ghanaian drama and theater. In the play, she transmutes traditional Akan Ananse Spider tales (Anansesem) into a new dramatic structure, which she calls Anansegoro. Nyamekye (a version of Alice in Wonderland), one of her later plays, shows how she was influenced by the folk opera tradition.
As a major literary voice, she was concerned about the need for making works by African writers available through local publishing. To this end, she played a key role as founder of Afram Publications Ghana Ltd in the early Seventies and until her death maintained an active role in the
editorial work of Afram. It is to her credit and to that of all who have worked with her that three of the winners of the 1995 Valco Fund Literary Awards are works published by Afram.
A concern for children is central to all of Efua Sutherland's life and work. Even after her retirement from the University of Ghana, she was to devote the final phase of her public life to foundation work in the establishment of the Ghana National Commission on Children. She was a foundation member (1979-1983) and later chairperson of the commission (1983- 1990). The work of this commission, especially through the impact of child education programmes designed around a national network of children's parklibrary complexes, the documentation of the situation of the Ghanaian child, and the influencing of state policy on child life, shall remain one of Efua Sutherland's most significant lasting gifts to her nation.
Efua Sutherland served on several other national and international boards and committees, including the Education Commission, the Valco Fund Board of Trustees, and the Ghana National Commission for UNESCO. Her work received recognition and sponsorship from both the state and such major agencies as the Valco Trust Fund, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, UNICEF, and UNESCO.
On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the achievement of a full university status, the University of Ghana selected Efua Sutherland as one of a small group of eminent individuals whose
contribution has had a profound impact on the development of the university and of the society at large:
"Efua Theodora Sutherland, for the inspiration provided to the development
of the Dramatic Art, and in recognition of your efforts on behalf of children
for whose benefit you have canvassed children's libraries and amusement
parks, the University of Ghana is privileged to honour you with thedegree of
Doctor of Laws, honoris causa."
Playtime in Africa

Selected works:
*The Roadmakers, 1961 (photographs by Willis E. Bell)
*Foriwa, 1962
*Playtime in Africa, 1962 (photograps by Willis E. Bell)
*Edufa, 1967 (based on Euripides's Alcestis)
*Odasani, 1967 (based on Everyman)
*Vulture! Vulture! and Tahinta: Two Rhythm Plays, 1968
*The Original Bob: The Story of Bob Johnson, Ghana's Ace Comedian, 1970
*Anase and the Dwarf Brigade, 1971 (based on Lewis Carroll's Alice in the Wonderland)
*Anansegoro: Story-telling Drama in Ghana, 1975
*The Marriage of Anansewa, 1975
*Efua Sutherland of Ghana, 1978 (recording)
*The Voice in the Forest, 1983
*The Marriage of Anansewa and Edufa, 1987

Sutherland’s Creativity at Work: The New Family of Mr. Ananse the Spider in The Marriage of Anansewa
                                  P.B. Mireku-Gyimah
Centre for Communication and Entrepreneurship Skills (CENCES), University of
Mines and Technology (UMaT), Tarkwa, Ghana

Abstract: This study explores characterization in Efua T. Sutherland’s The Marriage of Anansewa and demonstrates the playwright’s imagination and creativity at work. Unlike the traditional members of Ananse’s family in Akan folktales comprising a wife (Asɔ), four sons (Ntekuma, Afurudohwedohwe, Tikenenkene and Nyankorɔnhweaa) and sometimes unnamed in-laws, Sutherland creates a daughter (Anansewa), a mother (Aya), an aunt (Ekuwa) and a lover (Christie) for Ananse. Thus there are now four new females in Ananse’s new family to balance the four males in the original Ananse family, counting out man and wife. Unfortunately, Sutherland kills off Asɔ. Anansewa and Christie are main characters but Aya and Ekuwa are made minor characters. Besides this introduction of four women into Ananse’s extended family is Sutherland’s creation of a new identity for Ananse. He is a modernized Ghanaian with an English name, George. Sutherland artistically introduces a new dimension to Ananse by redefining his identity as a modern citizen of the globalized world. Whereas in the traditional folktales Ananse often cheats the members of his family forcing them to find ways and means to survive by foiling Ananse’s tricky plans, Sutherland’s new family members play an entirely different role: they are conscious or unconscious collaborators of Ananse’s scheme to cheat others. It is concluded that, by this new dimension of characters and the roles they play which bring freshness and popularization to the Akan folktales, Sutherland has elevated the Akan folktales to become an African Classic.

Before 1965 when the First President of the Republic of Ghana, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah,
the famous Pan-African leader called for the documentation of “our folktales” as a way of creating
“African Classics” for posterity (Nketia’s Preface to Owusu-Sarpong (1998)), Efua T. Sutherland emerged as one of the literary figures who identified the worth of “our folktales” and indeed modified one into a play about seven years earlier. She came up with her play entitled The Marriage of Anansewa (TMA), which was first published in 1958. This drama, which is based on
the Akan folktales, was published after productions in Akan and in English by three different notable Ghanaian performing groups, namely the Workers’ Brigade Drama Group, Kusum Agoromba (Kusum Players) and the Drama Studio Players and Kusum Agoromba combined (Sutherland, 1997). Sutherland’s work has enjoyed patronage for decades. In her dedication of the 1986 edition of TMA, Sutherland (1997) observes that a Ceremony of Remembrance was held to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Ghana Drama Studio, her brainchild. She notes that the ceremony, which took the “‘form of a dramatic recall of the works of deceased creative personalities who contributed to the development of Ghana’s heritage of dramatic arts’”, was also used to remember “‘such creative thinkers of the past who left a heritage of perceptions about society in scholarly and other works from which inspiration can be drawn for artistic creation today’”.
Today, in the year 2013, Sutherland herself can be counted as one of the “deceased” luminaries of the past which she referred to in the 1986 dedication. Sutherland’s book, TMA, has continued to enjoy success among both young and old in both academic and non-academic circles and this has been the result of a number of things, including the playwright’s ability to handle the story-telling tradition of the Akan in some interesting ways. For example, in the play, she remains true to the conventions of the folktale tradition, touching on its themes of love and communality among others, projecting the Akan traditional marriage and raising topical issues such as the hypocrisy of some
Christians and their church, not forgetting her profuse use of mboguo (song interludes).
Apart from all these, Sutherland vividly evokes the main character: arch-hero, trickster par excellence and owner of the Akan folktales, Ananse the Spider, personified as Kweku Ananse. She also shows literary prowess in her characterization, that is, her “creation of imaginary persons so that they exist for the reader as life-like” (Holman and Harman, 1986; qtd in Teiko, 2011). In fact, Sutherland portrays great artistic talent in the creation of new characters for the Akan folktales,
especially her extension of the traditional Ananse family. These new characters are mostly complex and believable and help explain the play’s major themes of deception, gullibility, love and marriage.
This paper leans on TMA to demonstrate Efua T. Sutherland’s creativity at work in four major ways as far as the traditional Ananse family is concerned, particularly, by the introduction of four females into the male-dominated family; first, by her creation of a daughter into the family which hitherto has had all-male children; second, by her creation of a lover for Ananse; third, by her creation of a mother for Ananse; and, finally, by her creation of an aunt for Ananse. In addition, the paper studies Sutherland’s creation of a new identity for Ananse himself as a modern Ghanaian
man and an anglicized one for that matter (with the first name George). It is instructive to note that all these characters are new and different from the traditional members of Mr Ananse the Spider’s family in the Akan folktales.
Traditionally, Ananse’s nuclear family members are five; they comprise Ananse’s wife, Asɔ and four sons. Of the four sons, only one, Ntekuma, is normal whereas three are physically challenged. Afurudohwedohwe, Tikenenkene and Nyankorɔnhweaa have aptronyms describing their physical deformities: Afurudohwedohwe literally means Very Very Big Stomach, Tikenenkene means Very Very Big Head and Nyankorɔnhweaa, means Very Very Tiny Legs. Asɔ, the wife and mother, is not part of the new family in TMA, for, unfortunately, Sutherland kills her off.

Sutherland’s work, TMA, is an African play and sourced from an Akan folktale whose story has the poor, struggling father, Kweku Ananse, devising a plan to escape the hardships of life, especially the economic dire straits in which he finds himself and his inability to easily pay his daughter Anansewa’s school fees, among other needs.
Ananse advertises the photograph of his daughter to four prominent chiefs of the land and succeeds in conniving with his daughter to manipulate them to compete unknowingly as suitors seeking the hand of his daughter in marriage. Ananse profits from the gifts which each chief pours on him for the sake of the daughter so as to win her consent. She, of course, would consent to marry only one-the one who, according to the father’s secret plan, would turn out to be most caring. Meanwhile, each one of the chiefs thinks he is the only lover or suitor (for so does Ananse make it to appear to them). Therefore, each chief goes on to choose a date for the customary marriage, which Sutherland calls the “head-drink ceremony”.
Unfortunately, all the four men choose the same date for this marriage ceremony. The clash of the dates presents a serious problem which Ananse must solve fast before the problem brings him trouble. Ananse gets the daughter to pretend to be dead on that special day, knowing that “nobody marries a corpse”. More importantly, he would be enabled to use the sad and unfortunate event to see the reactions of the suitors, judge and select the one who demonstrates true compassion, sympathy and love at such a time. The message of Anansewa’s untimely death is conveyed to each suitor. In this highly emotionally charged atmosphere, Ananse so desperately and seriously mourns his sad loss that he would not be consoled in any way, especially when the chiefs’ messengers begin to arrive to console him on his bereavement.
The messengers of the Chief of the Mines arrive first, then those of the Chief of Sapaase, followed by those of the Chief of Akate and, finally, those of Chief-Who-Is-Chief, the preferred suitor. The “wealthy paramount Chief of the Mines”… has this to say:
"That because this lady had not yet become his wife,
he cannot give her burial; but that which custom does
permit, he is not reluctant to fulfil. He sends “this bolt
of silk, this kente cloth from Bonwire… this dumas
cotton cloth, this drink and this bag of money to help
her father pay for the funeral in farewell to his lady” (p.
Similarly, what the Chief of Sapaase has to say is that: He has no right to give burial to this child because the head-drink did not come in time to make it a conclusive marriage [but] … he is not reluctant at all to perform whatever custom he has the right to perform …
(p. 81).
He sends “his silk, his velvet, his white kente cloth, his striped cloth … and his cash donation of twenty guineas also; spend it on drinks for the funeral …” (p. 81).
Even though Chief of the Mines and Chief of Sapaase offer some gifts to Ananse towards the funeral, they each make it also clear-as we have observed-and rightly so that, customarily, since the marriage was not really contracted before the “death” of Anansewa, it almost becomes a case of “no-sale-no-payment”, for which reason they are not bound to perform the funeral rites for the lady as they would do for a wife.
Indeed, as for the Chief of Akate, he presents no gift whatsoever. What is worse, this chief’s emissary, his “direct brother”, who has come to express condolences to “Togbe Ananse” makes it known that this one chief “was not even in favour of” their coming to sympathise with the bereaved family. “But we said, ‘No’. Even if we came to do nothing, we would show our faces here” (p. 83), the chief emissary explains.
But unlike the three Chief-Who-Is-Chief, through his messengers, says that: He accepts total responsibility for everything concerning the woman who had but one more step to take to enter his home. Therefore, from his hands… here are all requirements for her funeral… (p. 78).
Symbolically, he marries her and also provides a coffin-a glass coffin-in addition to other assorted gifts as would be needed, customarily, for a grand funeral befitting the late wife of a prominent chief:
"… Here is the ring a husband places on a wife’s
finger. Here is a bag of money, spend it on the funeral.
Here are cloths which any woman who is confidently
feminine would select with a careful eye; ... dumas,
white kente, silk kente, velvet, brocade. The drinks …
are in such quantities that we couldn’t bring them here
… this bottle of Schnapps … is what is mandatory for
me to place in your hands… this must be the drink with
which the farewell libation is poured when his beloved
one is being placed in the coffin … (p. 87).
“Finally”, the messenger points out that, it is the desire of Chief-Who-Is-Chief “to do for Anansewa
what a husband does for a wife. And so he sends his coffin, one made of glass. Place his wife in it for him …” (p. 87).
Thus Chief-Who-Is-Chief comes finally to exhibit genuine love for Anansewa even though she is dead and he is under no obligation to go to that extent. This gesture touches Ananse so much that, overwhelmed by this chief’s unique affection, concern, generosity and thoughtfulness, Ananse summons all his wits and acts in a way as to make this lovely chief win the “contest”.
As it happens, Anansewa resurrects for the preferred suitor, by the powers evoked through Ananse’s libation prayer-ironically, using the bottle of Schnapps presented by Chief-Who-Is-Chief.
Ananse and his daughter, Anansewa, are greatly assisted in all this drama by Ananse’s lover, a
“fashionable”, modern, career woman called Christie.
Before all this, however, Ananse hurriedly arranges with the Institute for Prospective Brides headed by Christie to get Anansewa trained and groomed for marriage as a modern, educated woman. He also arranges with Anansewa’s grandparents, Aya and Ekuwa, to get her properly prepared for marriage, especially marriage to a chief, according to custom, by ensuring that Anansewa is taken through the puberty rites which Sutherland refers to as the “outdooring ceremony”.

In TMA, we find four new women related to Ananse (Anansewa, Christie, Aya and Ekuwa) instead
of the only woman, Asɔ, also called ɔkonorɔ Yaa or Okondor Yaa (Opoku-Agyemang, 1999), who has long been known in the Akan folktale tradition as Ananse’s wife. Anansewa is the daughter, Christie is a lover who desires to be Ananse’s wife and, by the end of the play, there is every hope that she will become Ananse’s wife.
Aya is Ananse’s biological mother and Ekuwa is Ananse’s aunt (Aya’s sister); they are two other women who are also new entrants in the extended family of Ananse. All these female characters are dynamic, active, “life-like” and help advance the plot as well as the themes of deception, gullibility, love and marriage in the play. Whereas Anansewa and Christie are main characters, Aya and her sister, Ekuwa, may be classified as minor characters.
Anansewa: Anansewa is introduced very early in the play. She is the daughter of Ananse- “Pa Ananse” -and, like the father, she dominates the story. In fact, Sutherland presents Anansewa to the audience as a lovely young lady, the only daughter and the only child of Ananse. This is unlike in the Akan folktale tradition where Ananse has no daughter whatsoever. There, the children are only boys (four in all) and, as previously noted only one of them, Ntekuma, is normal. Ntekuma
is known to be a foil to the father in most of the tales in which Ananse’s tricks backfire.
For example, in one Akan folktale, the story is told that once Ananse plans to possess and control all the wisdom of the world and proceeds to sweep every bit together into a pot. He then tries to carry the collection of wisdom in the pot to hide on top of the tallest tree for himself alone. However, no matter how hard he tries, he is unable to climb the tree because he hangs the pot in
front of him instead of behind him. It is his little son Ntekuma standing below and observing the
proceedings, who suggests to the frustrated father to carry the pot at his back. Ananse tries and it works! He manages to climb smoothly to the tree top.
Nevertheless, on realising that Ntekuma the tiny boy could give such a wise advice to him, who is the only one supposed to have all wisdom, Ananse becomes disappointed that some wisps of wisdom might have remained on earth after all, so, out of a deep sense of failure, he drops the pot which breaks to scatter all over the world all the wisdom stored in it. For this reason, wisdom has become the heritage of all humankind (Sackeyfio et al., 1994).
The siblings of Ntekuma are spectacular. One has a big head (his name is Tikenenkenen literally meaning Very Very Big Head); one has a big stomach (his name is Afurudohwedohwe literally meaning Very Very Big Stomach) and the other has tiny legs (his name is Nyankorɔnhweea literally meaning Very Very Tiny Legs) as we have previously observed of them. Anansewa has no siblings or mother in TMA. Her mother, who is anonymous in the play, is dead and so Anansewa lives with only her father. However, she has a loving paternal grandmother and a grand-aunt being Ananse’s mother, Aya and his aunt, Ekuwa.
On the one hand, Anansewa loves life and represents modern ladies. She likes to go out but the
father wants her to stay at home and serve him as is seen in the following conversation between the two:
Ananse: Going-and-coming is necessary…. Otherwise nothing succeeds. I went to buy paper. Here is typing paper. Here is carbon paper. Here are envelopes… Sit down with the machine.
Anansewa: [Petulantly] Ah, I was coming to tell you I was going out.
Ananse: My daughter, it isn’t well at home, therefore sit down, open up the machine I bought for your training and let the tips of your finger give some service for which I’m paying. I have very urgent letters to write.
Anansewa: Just when I was going out? (p. 10)
Ananse: There you sit looking lovely and it is exciting for you to go out in all your beauty. That’s all you know. But tell me, won’t you return home, here, afterwards? (p. 11).
On the other hand, Anansewa is observed to be a daughter who is respectful and understands her family difficulties. For instance, she stays behind to assist the father. Further, she knows that her fees as well as the last instalment on the typewriter she needs for her training are in arrears and that the burden of that need is on her father. Thus she is prepared and also responsible enough to undergo practical training and study hard to become self-sufficient and useful not only to herself but
also to her family, especially her father, who is struggling to see her through education. She is literate, knows shorthand and is training to be a professional career woman. We as audience find her able to type her father’s letters.
Besides formal schooling, Anansewa also humbles herself to go through the traditional preparations and training meant to make her a proper Akan woman and the wife of a chief, a woman of substance and a role model to the community. We are told that she actually likes and enjoys her outdooring ceremony “so much” and that, according to her grand-aunt, Ekuwa, Anansewa “keeps on asking questions in order to learn as much as she can” (p. 45). Later, when it becomes absolutely necessary for her to “die” as her father requests her to do, she agrees, though not without asking questions, as is observed, for example, in the following dialogue between the two:
Ananse: ... [Darting closer to her] Open your eyes wide and let me see.
Anansewa: What? Very well. I’ve opened them.
Ananse: [Peering into her eyes] for what reason? [She laughs.] Shut them tight.
Anansewa: [Smiling a little and obliging] I’ve shut them tight.
Ananse: Mhm Stiffen your limbs.
Anansewa: [Opening her eyes]. For what reason? [She laughs] Very well, I have stiffened my limbs. [She does so.]
Ananse: Do it properly, I want you to look as though you are dead.
Anansewa: What do you mean? [She laughs.] I have never died before.
Ananse: My daughter, I implore you, don’t waste time. What I’m doing is in serious preparation.
Anansewa: [Understanding nothing at all] Preparation?
Ananse: Yes my daughter, stiffen yourself.
Anansewa: [Doing so with laughter] There you are. Are you satisfied?
Ananse: Very pleased. It’s really coming right. Try not to move any part of your body. [Anansewa tries.] Oh yes… And now… Can’t you hold your breath?
Anansewa: [Finding this too much] Hold my breath! I shouldn’t breathe? As for that, definitely no, I can’t do it and will not.
Ananse: Oh but my daughter, it’s necessary for you to die!
Anansewa: Me? [Words fail her.] But father, I’m alive. I’m open-eyed. How can I switch my life off and on like electricity?
Ananse: Don’t spout silly jokes, you don’t understand what we are doing.
Anansewa: Then make me understand; because this game you’re playing is full of mystery. I don’t like it.
Ananse: My daughter.
Anansewa: My father.
Ananse: You are forcing me to tell you those four people are coming. Just coming? They are rushing here. Sprinting.
Ananse: … racing here like fire blazing through grass… (pp. 55-56).
And she “dies” when the time finally comes, in order to save her father from humiliation, among other things, as the suitors, “those four people are coming”, “Just coming”, “rushing”, “Sprinting’, “racing here like fire blazing through grass” as Ananse puts it (p. 56). Thus Anansewa is strong and intelligent but also obedient.
Yet, she knows her rights and will not marry blindly just to satisfy culture. As such, she questions the father as to whatever she does not understand and insists at one point that she is old enough to choose her own husband -“I’m not a child. I’m twenty” (p. 20) - and so would not have the father choose any “old chief” (p. 20) for her or, as she puts it, sell her as a commodity-“I will not let you sell me like some parcel to a customer. [She sings on] I will select my lover myself/I’ll never comply./ I will not let you sell me…/Not ever!/Not ever!” (p. 20).
Later, however, when she learns that one of the chiefs is a wealthy, caring, good-looking and relatively younger man: a “finely built, glowing black, largedeyed, handsome as anything, courageous and famous” (p. 22) chief, who has been remitting her through the father and “not just showing interest with his mouth” (p. 22), she falls flat in love with him and so cooperates with the father to win this chief as her husband.
In this sense, Anansewa makes a choice of the husband she loves and not one imposed on her by
tradition. This comes out clearly in the following dialogue between her and her father in which Ananse tries to hint that, he has taken gifts from four good chiefs and not just one, thereby already “entangling” her in the affair:
Anansewa: What four chiefs are racing here?
Ananse: Oh-h-h, dear! Rouse your memory if it’s asleep and remember. I tell you there is no time to waste. Each chief’s messengers are on their way, urgently sent to place your head-drink on the table.
… I tell you each chief is coming running to claim you as his wife.
Anansewa: [Laughing] over my dead body. … I repeat, over my dead body. How can they claim me as their own? … . They dare not.
Ananse: …They can dare.
Anansewa: Father, why? All that aside, why do you say ‘they’? Why don’t you say ‘he’, the single one?
Ananse: [His eyes darting] are you asking me why?
Anansewa: Yes why? Because I know that it’s only one chief we are expecting to come. And as far as that person is concerned, he cannot come too quickly for me. I’m waiting for him asleep and awake. As for the other three chiefs, my father, you made them take their eyes off me long ago, remember. Right at the beginning, you refused to accept gifts from their hands…. (p. 56).
From the foregoing discussion, Anansewa is very much human unlike her father’s children in the Akan folktales. Thanks to Sutherland’s rich imagination and artistry, Ananse can now boast of a daughter and, for that matter, a normal, modern and believable one who can think, understand, question and act. Sutherland’s fertile imagination leads to the creation of Anansewa thus deepening interest in her play as an African classic and in the Akan folktales as a cultural heritage.
Aya and Ekuwa: Aya and Ekuwa are also two new women related to Ananse. Unlike Anansewa, they are introduced much later in the play, in Act Three. Sutherland creates Aya as Ananse’s mother. For once in the Akan folktales, Ananse has a biological mother, Aya. Aya is flesh and blood and a loving Akan grandmother of Anansewa. She adores her son, Ananse and her grand-daughter, Anansewa, for whom she has been invited to serve, by performing the traditional
“outdooring ceremony” for her. By this ceremony, Aya is to initiate her grandchild Anansewa into womanhood, especially as a woman prepared to take a heavy responsibility as a chief’s wife.
Even though the ceremony seems delayed and Aya complains a little, she goes ahead with her sister, Ekuwa, to do the best for Anansewa, whom they variously refer to with so much affection and terms of endearment such as “your grandchild”, “this grandchild of yours” (p. 44), “our child”, “my grandchild” (pp. 45, 46 and 47), “my gold child” (p. 47), “my grandchild Anansewa”, “our girl” and “this grandchild of mine” (p. 50).
It is instructive to note that Aya is a paternal grandmother. Now, as far as the Akan custom of
matrilineal inheritance is concerned, paternal grandmothers are mostly not too keen on their
grandchildren for the simple reason that these grandchildren belong to their mother’s family lineage.
Therefore, usually, grandmothers are rather more interested in their daughter’s children, that is, the
maternal grandchildren. Often a proverbial question is posed to explain this: “Woahunu akokɔnini a ne mma di n’akyi da?” literally meaning “have you ever before seen a cock whose chicks are following it?” But contrary to this tradition, Aya shows great interest in Anansewa and her success in life, both present and future, as far as the ceremony and its significance are concerned. And she offers Anansewa the best gift which is a prayer for a husband who has respect for his fellow human beings. Hear her:
"… My grandchild, Anansewa, your old lady knows
what is of real value in this world. You notice that this
outstretched hand of mine is empty, it contains nothing.
And yet, this same empty hand will succeed in placing
a gift into your brass bowl. What this hand is offering is
this prayer of mine. May the man who comes to take
you from our hands to his home be, above all things, a
person with respect for his fellow human beings …. (p.
In TMA, Sutherland creates a situation where Anansewa’s mother is no more and we do not as much as hear of or find her maternal grandmother at all. Instead, it is her father’s mother-her paternal grandmother-who is present and must perform the highly important “outdooring ceremony” for the young lady. It is acknowledged that the ceremony appears delayed on account of Anansewa (probably because her mother is dead) and Aya rightly questions “why now?”
Also, Aya becomes sincerely emotional and briefly laments the sad absence of Anansewa’s mother at such a crucial time and at such a memorable day in the girl’s life. All the same, Aya takes consolation in Ekuwa’s words of reason-“… I don’t believe you want to ruin Anansewa’s joy” (p. 45). So Aya gathers herself up and tackles the task head on, with such love and enthusiasm! And this paternal grandmother does the job remarkably well while taking up any other role which
Anansewa’s own mother would probably have played had she been alive.
Ekuwa confirms this when she declares of her sister, “Mm, Aya, are you already here? I see you are keeping your eyes wide open to make sure that nothing goes wrong with your grandchild Anansewa’s outdooring” (p. 44). Perhaps, with the portrayal of Aya in such a positive light as far as she is Anansewa’s paternal grandmother, Sutherland is pointing out that this is how things ought to go, that paternal grandmothers must show love and affection to their son’s children the same way they do to their daughter’s.
On the part of Ekuwa herself, she offers her grandchild, Anansewa, “service”, calling her “my child
of beauty” and wishing her very very well (pp. 48 -49) and we find her also as lovable as Aya, but somehow more objective. It is she who points out the wisdom in the adage that says “Better late than never” when she explains to Aya about the need for the “outdooring ceremony” to take place even if it has somehow delayed for Anansewa. Ekuwa observes, “… I’ve been trying to explain it to you. If this grandchild of yours is going to marry a chief, then, it is our duty to prepare her in every way for the position she will be occupying in a palace” (p. 44). To this, Aya responds with the following words charged with sincere emotions:
"Aya: All right. Whatever it may be, I’m happy to see
my Anansewa conducting herself in the manner that
graces a woman. You do not know what feelings are
breaking and ebbing like waves inside me because of
this ceremony we are performing. This wave brings
happiness and that one brings pride and another,
sadness. Yes, it is true that you and I are here doing all
we can and yet when I remember that the person who
should be here as well, bustling around Anansewa
should be her own mother, then, my sister Ekuwa, a
wave of sorrow crests up inside me mangling my
innards. [She starts to dirge] And it isn’t as though it is
where we could send her a telegram to say, ‘come’. It
isn’t as though we could send a messenger by taxi to
fetch her. [She is about to wail seriously.] Truly, death
has done some wickedness (p. 45).
Still, Aya portrays the bad mother-in-law behavior prevalent among some Akan/Ghanaian women towards their in-laws. In fact, before Aya meets Christie personally for the first time, Aya’s remark to her sister Ekuwa is that Christie is “senselessly extravagant”(p. 45) and she also complains without any proof that Christie “is serving my son Kweku too hard” (p. 45).
By those remarks made behind Christie’s back, Aya is suggesting that Christie is after her son Ananse’s wealth.
Worse, we note how Aya despisingly refers to Christie as “that woman” and “the woman” (p. 45)
whereas Christie lovingly calls her “Mother”. In fact, when Christie comes in, she addresses her nicely as “mother” and delightedly exclaims to her: “How I have dressed up my daughter Anansewa!” Sadly, however, Aya sarcastically mimics Christie’s words to her sister, later,-again in the absence of Christie-with the words “‘I’ve dressed up my daughter Anansewa’, indeed!”
Aya even goes to the extent of adding contemptuous remarks such as “When did my grandchild become her child?” and also “Whom is she calling mother? Me?” (p. 46). When her sister Ekuwa
tries to point out that Christie is there on Ananse’s invitation and that she is just trying to help, Aya,
“[snorting]”, has only this to say that, “The way I see it she is leaning her ladder on my grandchild in order to climb up to my son” (p. 45).
It is clear from these and other reactions of hers that even though Aya is nice to Anansewa, when it
comes to Christie, Aya changes from being a nice person- possibly because she does not approve of the relationship between Ananse and Christie. It may be argued that Ananse has not married Christie yet and so Aya may be right not to encourage illegitimate marriage or immorality, but then courtship must precede marriage? Or, being traditionalist, Aya is not interested in courtship?
The truth of the matter is that, the behavior of some mothers-in-law or would-be ones in Akan land, Ghana and elsewhere is just as that shown by Ananse’s mother. It is surprising how the same person can show so much affection and yet so much disgust on account of the same son. Aya loves Anansewa, daughter of her son, but Aya dislikes Christie, partner of her son.
Perhaps, once again, Sutherland is using Aya to point out the anomaly in order to encourage a change in such “rival” mothers-in-law. “Love me love my dog”, Sutherland seems to advise.
Concerning Aya and her sister Ekuwa, however, there is a twist in the story which makes them pitiful, in that, after toiling so much to prepare Anansewa for marriage to a chief, in the end, they are told lies and chased away by Ananse, under the pretext that they cannot stand the sad but fake death of Anansewa. By sending them away, one can conclude that, the poor women would not be around to partake in the merriment in the marriage of their paternal grandchild, Anansewa, to Chief-Who-Is-Chief. What a pity!
Christie: Like Anansewa and the elderly women Aya and Ekuwa in TMA, Christie is a woman in Ananse’s life and a special one at that, being his lover. Her full name is Miss Christina Yamoah and she is described in the play as a “fashionable” woman, the proprietress of the Institute for Prospective Brides. Sutherland mentions her name much earlier at the end of Act Two when she is telephoned to take care of Anansewa at the Institute, yet Christie does not appear until later in the
play, in Act Three, to dress Anansewa on the day of the “outdooring ceremony”, where Christie joins the grannies and Anansewa’s peers in the celebrations.
However, Miss Yamoah is made to dominate the funeral scenes since she literally becomes the face of Ananse while he seriously mourns his daughter, Anansewa, who is dead and lies in state, at a time when the old ladies have actually left having been tricked to leave by Ananse before Anansewa’s death.
Christie is therefore made to occupy a very important position including that of a linguist and she
skillfully plays these roles to the admiration of all. In any case, she also reveals herself as a liar and a crook just like her lover, all in the name of love and materialism. This is particularly so as she ensures that the sad atmosphere is maintained while she tactfully prevents the situation, where the lie behind Ananse’s plan could be exposed. Above all, Christie finds a means of collecting whatever gifts are brought to Ananse by the sympathizers.
Christie respects Ananse’s mother and addresses her dearly as “mother” although she is not yet married to him and Ananse’s mother does not seem to like her. This shows how much she wants to be accepted as a daughter-in-law. According to Akan custom, the mother of one’s partner/spouse is indeed one’s mother as well.
To all intents and purposes, Christie is very much in love with George Kweku Ananse, but Ananse seems to be dragging his feet concerning getting married to her. Yet Christie shows such love, care and concern to Ananse and the daughter Anansewa that she assists the grandmothers in the preparation for the “outdooring ceremony” and, indeed, presents to Anansewa something valuable, in the form of a “sovereign” which is “so precious” to Christie; something she is so emotionally attached to and says “I never thought I n never thought I would part with this sovereign in my
hand” (p. 49).
As previously hinted, she ensures, more importantly, that neither Ananse nor Anansewa is
exposed during the fake death, lying-in-state and resurrection of Anansewa. As Ananse wails
uncontrollably on account of the feigned ‘loss’ of his only child albeit his beloved daughter, Anansewa, it is Christie who takes the responsibility of receiving the messengers of the four contesting chiefs, asks the mission according to custom and takes charge of the gifts they bring. She carefully guards the room where Anansewa’s “corpse” lies and makes sure no-one gets too near the ‘body’ and possibly see the corpse breathing. Also, she tries to console Ananse and makes the whole scam affair very believable. In the end, Ananse, whom Christie affectionately calls “Georgie”, succeeds, thanks to her as much as to Anansewa, whom Christie lovingly refers to as “my daughter” (p. 45), “my darling”, “my sweetie” and “my dear” (p. 49).
Sutherland’s presentation of Christie would seem to give credence to the popular Ghanaian cliché that says “Fear woman”, an expression often used to underscore the cunningness of women and how dangerous they can be.
In the final analysis, there is hope that the two, that is, Christie and Ananse, shall become one just as is most likely to occur between the resurrected Anansewa and the much beloved Chief-Who-Is-Chief. Luckily for Christie, it is unlikely that she will not be around to partake in the final enjoyment, especially when Aya is far away.
With the introduction of the young, “fashionable” Auntie Christie in TMA, Efua T. Sutherland also
reaffirms the saying that “beside every successful man is a woman.”
Ananse: Ananse himself remains the old Kweku Ananse in the traditional Akan folktales. He is the archhero, arch-trickster and, indeed, the “owner” of the tales, as is generally accepted. In TMA, for example, these are confirmed. Not only is Ananse the principal character but also he is the unbeatable trickster, who is able to play on the intelligence of a whole community including his own mother and aunt and even the “great” leaders of his society, being “four prominent chiefs of
the land”!
We observe how the whole story of the marriage of Anansewa is dominated by Ananse. Again, we observe how, for instance, after Anansewa’s “outdooring ceremony” has been beautifully performed by his mother and aunt, Ananse finds a lie to tell them that an enemy has set fire to the family property-being their only cocoa farm back in their village, Nanka and so gets them packing there and then into a waiting taxi as they wail their fate, pointing accusing fingers at no one in particular and rushing back home to their village to see to the “problem”. Moreover, we also observe how Ananse confuses the whole community with his fake bereavement not to talk of how he makes the chiefs the butts of his one big joke of a marriage to his daughter.
Here, the true character of Ananse as a trickster, a cheat and a selfish man is upheld by Sutherland.
Yet Sutherland also transforms him as a more enlightened man in TMA in order to raise him to a new level in the scheme of things. And he becomes a good man, too. Ananse’s new identity is the anglicized one with the new name ‘George’. George Kweku Ananse becomes the new Akan man, who, unlike most Akan fathers of Sutherland’s time, will educate his girl-child and not consign her to early marriage or confine her to only the kitchen just because she is female. Thus, while wishing for the best caring man to marry her, Ananse makes sure that his daughter will become educated,
independent and economically empowered; therefore, he struggles to see her through school and professional training, no matter how much it costs him, financially or emotionally.
It is also worth noting that even though Kweku acquires a new foreign name, “George” (“Georgie”) and with it an anglicized identity, he respects the traditions of his society and culture. For instance, he believes in traditional marriage and he gets an “outdooring ceremony” organized for his only daughter to prepare her for marriage, in fact, the high calling of a chief’s wife, though a bit belatedly and also after having prepared her at the Institute for Prospective Brides, in the care of the fashionable Madam Christie, the proprietess.
The significance of this seeming contradiction in Ananse is that, perhaps, it is possible to marry positive aspects of different cultures without harm, especially in today’s globalised world. Again, Sutherland’s creativity is at its best in the carving of the new Ananse of TMA and the Akan folktales.

This paper has studied Efua T. Sutherland’s creative genius as far as characterization in TMA is
concerned. It has shown that although TMA is built around the famous Ananse character of the Akan folktales, Sutherland artistically introduces a new dimension to the Ananse family by bringing in new entrants, who are all female and also by redefining Ananse’s identity as a modern citizen of the globalised world. There is now a balance of four women to match the four males in the original Ananse family outside him and his wife, Asɔ.
Together with the grandparents, the new family of Ananse becomes more realistic, especially as an
African family and the members play their roles well as major and minor characters to advance the play, both plot-wise and thematically. To a large extent, they all act and behave like real people in the real world of human beings. All these new features of the Akan folktales as depicted in TMA have been made possible owing to Sutherland’s success as a playwright with a powerful artistic presentation of characters.
However, as previously observed, Sutherland does not permit Asɔ to live. This is unfortunate in two main ways. First, because the traditional Ananse family appears immortal as no member of it has ever died in the Akan folktales. If anything, it is Ananse the trickster himself who, sometimes, pretends to be dead out of greed just to cheat the family of food (see for example Tale 35 titled “Wives should help their husbands to work”, in Mireku-Gyimah (2011), but he resurrects soon after. So Ananse himself is also apparently immortal.
Sutherland should, therefore, have allowed Asɔ the wife to live, especially now that Asɔ has a daughter-and a strong one for that matter-to support her against her trickster husband and mostly weak sons. Had Asɔ been spared to live, there would have been a perfect balance of five males and five females, who would have represented the society better.
The existence of Asɔ the wife and Christie as a lover preparing to be a wife, or, possibly, a second wife would still not be out of place but rather even more representative of the traditional society, which permits polygamy. And Christie would be the perfect step mother-a rival who loves her husband and therefore loves whatever belongs to him, in this case, his child, Anansewa, as her own. Perhaps Sutherland simply kills off Asɔ just to try to avoid propagating polygamy which, outside traditional society, is largely considered as immoral and also to avoid adding to the woes of the suffering wife with the presence of a co-wife or girlfriend. Once again, in all these dimensions, it is all Sutherland’s art at work.

Holman, H.C. and W. Harmon, 1986. A Handbook to Literature. 5th Edn., Macmillan, New York, pp: 81.
Mireku-Gyimah, P.B., 2011. 50 Akan Folktales from Ghana: English and Akan Versions. LAP Lambert Academic Publishing GmbH, Saarbrucken, pp:
Opoku-Agyemang, N.J., 1999. Gender role perceptions in the Akan folktales. Res. Afr.
Literatures, 30(1): 116-139.
Owusu-Sarpong, C., 1998. Trilingual Anthology of Akan Folktales. Vol. 1, Yamens Paper Products
Ltd., Accra, pp: 17.
Sackeyfio, N.A., J.K. Adu and B. Hyde, 1994. Ananse and the Wisdom of the World. Ghana SSS English Book 1, MoE, Accra, pp: 24-25.
Sutherland, E.T., 1997. The Marriage of Anansewa. Longman African Classic, Animo Press Ltd., Ikeja, pp: 8.
Teiko, N.O., 2011. Themes and Characterisation in
Amu Djoleto’s Money Galore. Akrong Publications, Accra, pp: 29.


  1. Please inform how to contact you directly for assistance. My dissertation chairperson is coming to Istanbul and interested in visitng AfroTurk community in Cirpi. He is an Ethnographer. Please help nubiyyah1@gmail.com

  2. Thank you for the information.Indian Ethnic wears are considered as the most sophisticated outfit that now a days western world also and used to be fashionable.


Post a Comment