The World Literature Today executive director, editors, and staff today noted with sadness that on Sept. 21, 2013 Kofi Awoonor, Ghanaian poet and statesman, died in the al-Shabaab attack at Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya. Mr. Awoonor was a WLT author and adviser. In 1994, he served on the jury for the Neustadt International Prize for Literature at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, nominating laureate Kamau Braithwaite for the award.
Mr. Awoonor attended the University of Ghana, where he later taught African literature and wrote his first poetry book, Rediscovery and Other Poems (1964). He oversaw the Ghana Film Corporation, founded the Ghana Play House, and was later head of the English Department at the University of Ghana. From 1990-1994, he served as Ghana’s Ambassador to the United Nations and also chaired the Council of State. He other works of literature include This Earth, My Brother (1971, a mixed-genre novel/poem), Night of My Blood (1971, poems), The House by the Sea (1978, poems), and Comes the Voyager at Last (1992, novel). His essay “Nationalism: Masks and Consciousness” appeared in the Spring 1971 issue of Books Abroad (the prior name of WLT).