[SHC World Poetry Month] “Questions — For us: “Today’s African Leadership” by Ama Ata Aidoo

by Prince Antwi-Afari

Ama Ata Aidoo (b.1943). Photo credits: James Murua African Literature Blog.

Ama Ata Aidoo (b.1943) is a force in the Ghanaian literary landscape. She has written plays, poetry, short stories, and novels and has successfully created a distinctive African tapestry, which is what modulates and inflects her English with a unique and persistently female African flavour. This poem presents an excellent case that mimics the ongoing leadership condition in some African countries. The writer, having experienced colonialism, post-colonialism and independence eras in her life compares the life of African leaders’ post-colonialism to the brutality experienced during the colonial periods.

This poem is very critical and important even in current discourse as there are still issues of corruption in most African countries. I chose this poem because the author’s message is still applicable and delivers a very thought-provoking message to upcoming leaders and to everyone to remember that we are all humans, and when we are given the opportunity to serve, we should go ahead and serve with all diligence.

“Questions — For us: “Today’s African Leadership” by Ama Ata Aidoo. Recited by Prince Antwi-Afari.

“Questions — For us: “Today’s African Leadership”

by Ama Ata Aidoo (Ghana)

They say all beings fight to live:

The mole, the lion and the crow.

They say all creatures must fight to be

In the air, on land in water.

And as for human

You and me,

We shoot like wild mushrooms

In the dark –

Sneak up like snakes

Claw like cats

Pounce and Trample,




Then we go limp:

Like wild mushrooms

  • At high noon.

So where do we come in

Who feel bad just to be firm?

Damn all these else?

Do our own nice or nasty thing?

Surely, My Brother,

500 hundred years is too long to take the kicks

Without a murmur?

And for what

Do we still come with cup in hand, begging, pleading and

Endlessly shifting?

Who would have us

Be human in a world

Of cruel beasts

And even more cruel men?

How dare we trust,


Trust took a vacation — several million years ago — and

Never bothered to come back?

Put quite simply,

In whose name do we ever act?

Whose tomorrow do we sell?

Recited by: Prince Antwi-Afari (PhD 2, Faculty of Engineering)

Produced by: Editorial Team of the SHC Media Club, Nicolo Ludovice, Sean Suntoso, Aurell Sulaiman, Chong Sze Teng

A place dedicated to writers of Shun Hing College (HKU) — Hong Kong. https://www.shunhingcollege.hku.hk/