Our Sister Killjoy Background

Our Sister Killjoy Background

Ama Ata Aidoo's Our Sister Killjoy or Reflections from a Black-Eyed Squint is a fierce attack on the notions of exile. It is a baffling work as it features the history of Africa, while touching upon the themes of exploitation, slavery and post-independence struggle. It criticizes exile as relief from the burden of national development and freedom to live in an environment providing better opportunities. Aidoo questions the reasons of exile. Everything is seen through the squinted eyes of a modern, educated African woman Sissie. She comes across experiences that are enriching, baffling, demoralizing - a variety of positive and negative ones. Through a combination of prose, poetry and letter writing, Sissie confronts those exiles who have forgotten their duty to their native land and reports back to her home community what she sees in the land of the colonizers.

Our Sister Killjoy is presented in four sections. In the first part, “Into a Bad Dream”, Sissie travels to Germany. She is welcomed with a party, where she is ridiculed by the presence of her fellow countryman who has adopted the British life. Sissie does not feel intimidated by her color, rather takes pride in it. She is the most adventurous in her group staying in Germany.

The second section is “The Plums”. Sissie befriends a lady Marija Sommer, whose husband never seems to be home. Marija is in awe of Sissie. She brings her Plums and other fruits every day, and the two become companions. Sissie is an object of interest for everyone, because of her dark skin. Marija eventually falls in love with the exotic foreigner, to which Sissie is amused. She leaves Germany for her next stop leaving Marija disappointed and lonely.

Her third stop is London; she feels the place as an old colonial home. This third section, “Our Sister Killjoy” familiarizes the readers with Sissie’s meeting to African self-exiles. She pities their living condition and cannot understand why they left home and why they lie about the place in the letter sent back home. She meets Kunle here, who dies in a fire in his car.

The final section, “A Love Letter”, introduces the readers to Sissie’s lover whom she questions the reason of exile and asks him to come back. It’s a mock-dialogue, conveying her experiences and learning to her lover. The section ends with Sissie deciding to not send the letter and only convey what she has seen to the people back home.

It took Aidoo five years to complete the work, with it only being published in the year 1977. She calls it a work of fiction in four parts, and not a novel because of its prose-verse style. Talking about its reception, Aidoo remarks it “has been hostile or people have simply refused to acknowledge it.” It is in the later wake of the post colonial criticism and the literature from African continent that Aidoo receives some response. In a speech, "Unwelcome Pals and Decorative Slaves," Aidoo refers to the attitude of her male colleagues towards her involvement in political issues, they find her unfit to speak. In the same speech, she comments:"I am convinced that if Killjoy or anything like it had been written by a man, as we say in these parts, no one would have been able to sleep a wink these couple of years." It’s only because Aidoo is a woman that Eurocentric male-dominated academia has found Our Sister Killjoy unacceptable.

Our Sister Killjoy is a work that talks of an unheard issue in much literature - the exile of African woman. Sissie gives us the eyes, and we look at her as she looks at others. It is a work to confront those who have forgotten their duties towards their homeland.

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