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Sep 25 2013

Kofi Awoonor joins Gladys Wundowa on the list of the murdered

God damn it.

From the Guardian on Monday:

A renowned Ghanaian poet was among the scores of casualties of the Westgate shopping mall attack in Kenya.

Prof Kofi Awoonor,  a former diplomat, was killed in the attack in Nairobi. He was in the city attending the Storymoja Hay literary festival, a celebration of pan-African writing and storytelling.

His fellow Ghanaian poet Nii Ayikewei Parkes said people attending the festival had realised something was wrong when Awoonor, known affectionately by many in Ghana as “Prof”, failed to turn up for a session at which poets from west Africa and east Africa were due to perform a reading.

“Professor Awoonor and I and two other poets were representing west Africa, and there were four poets from east Africa,” said Parkes, author of Tail of the Blue Bird, who is also Awoonor’s nephew.

Well good job, al-Shabaab. Thank you very much. Ghana thanks you. Poetry thanks you. Diplomacy thank you. Poetry-lovers and readers of Africa thank you. Making life worse with every step you take: what an amazing project.

“It was the first time I had met [Awoonor],” said Parkes. “He was very witty, wise and incredibly magnanimous. The Ghanaian high commissioner and several very successful Ghanaians in Nairobi dropped everything when they heard that he was speaking to come and hear him. Yet he was humble and warm,” Parkes said.

A memorial tribute has been organised at Nairobi’s national museum on Monday, where wellwishers have been invited to carry a candle in honour of the poet, and to sign a sympathy book for his family.

Awoonor, who is known for his experimental writing and poetry including the acclaimed novel This Earth, My Brother, was also a public figure in Ghana, with a particularly close relationship to the late president John Atta Mills.

“Professor Awoonor was a great African, a leading light whose footsteps leave big footprints,” the Storymoja Hay organisers said. “His legend must live on.”

Gladys Wundowa was a Ghanaian too. She too was murdered by Islamists. She was a cleaner at UCL, and she was on the 52 bus that blew up in Tavistock Square, on her way to school after working the night shift.

In a statement made to the police in 2006, Mr Wundowa said Gladys was a committed and loving wife and mother, and “a kind, hard-working and benevolent, very helpful Christian woman”.

Mr Wundowa told the BBC he and his wife had made plans to move back to Ghana and live in a house they were in the process of building.

“She never had a problem with anyone. She would give her last dime to make you comfortable. And cheerful, always smiling,” he said.

In the days after Gladys’s death, the Ghanaian president at the time, John Kufuor, visited the grieving Wundowa family and friends in Essex to offer his condolences. He had been on his way back to Ghana after an official visit to Jamaica.

Gladys Wundowa was buried in her home village in Ghana, where 2,000 mourners attended her funeral.

That’s just two of the many.

 

6 comments

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  1. 1
    neleabels

    Damn barbarians. They cannot create, just destroy…

  2. 2
    rnilsson

    So, off topic but maybe in a slightly gayer* tonic:

    What odds for Nobel Peace Prize this year?
    Malala Yousufsai
    Elon Musk
    Vladimir Putin
    Bashar al-Assad (and his evil non-twin)

    When do nominations close? Has this been discussed to boredom already? What, bedtime?

    * I must plead desperation, can’t stand much more meaningless murderous malice.

  3. 3
    Ophelia Benson

    Malala. Nobody will even bother betting on it.

  4. 4
    Ophelia Benson

    (And there are other threads that are less grim! This one did cause me to delay before posting again.)

  5. 5
    rnilsson

    The rest are not even also-runs? Figures.
    (Yes, indeed! I can barely imagine what you mean, if you get my drift.)
    Here, have a cookie with warm milk, or ice cream.

  6. 6
    Ophelia Benson

    Aw thanks.

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