History Efua Sutherland, the Ghanaian playwright-activist. One of Africa’s earliest...

Efua Sutherland, the Ghanaian playwright-activist. One of Africa’s earliest female writers recognized locally and internationally for numerous theater works


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Efua Sutherland

Many great literary works owe their legacies to dedicated teachers who explore their meaning with their students. A prominent writer and a teacher Efua Theodora Sutherland played a crucial role in both the creation and exploration of prominent plays across Ghana.

Sutherland (or Aunty Efua, as she was affectionately known), was one of Africa’s earliest female writers recognized locally and internationally for numerous theater works, including Foriwa (1962), Edufa (1967), and The Marriage of Anansewa (1975). She is credited with bringing literary and theatrical movements in Ghana between the 1950s and 1990s through her own works and helped develop the country’s educational curriculum for children.

As the earliest Ghanaian playwright-director she was an influential figure in the development of modern Ghanaian theatre, and helped to introduce the study of African performance traditions at the university level. She was also a pioneering publisher, establishing the company Afram Publications in the 1970s.

At a time when women played a limited role in governance, Sutherland is also remembered for her extensive work on the U.N. Convention on the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. Because of Sutherland’s dedication to children’s rights and cultural activism, thousands of students in Ghana (and beyond) have access to quality education and theater performance.

 In the 1990s she was the inspiration behind the biennial Pan-African Festival of Theatre Arts (PANAFEST). Efua Sutherland died in Accra aged 71 in 1996.


  1. “Google celebrates Efua Sutherland”. www.ghanaweb.com. Retrieved 2019-04-13.
  2.  Sutherland, Efua Theodora (1967). Foriwa: A Play. State Publishing Corporation.
  3.  Sutherland, Efua T. (1979). Edufa. Longman. ISBN 9780582642720.
  4.  “The Marriage Of Anansewa”. www.goodreads.com. Retrieved 2019-04-13.


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