One of Ghana’s foremost authors, Professor Kofi Awoonor, was among scores of people shot dead in Saturday's attack at the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, Kenya.
One of Africa’s most extraordinary poets, Mr. Awoonor also served in several political roles in Ghana. Until recently, he was the chairman of Ghana’s Council of State, having being appointed by the late President John Atta-Mills and in 2009 was elected to chair that advisory body.
Mr. Awoonor’s death in the massacre has sent shock waves around the world, a source at the Ghana High Commission in Nairobi confirmed. A Somali Islamist militant group, Al Shabab, has claimed responsibility for the gruesome attack in which 59 people perished. Many more victims sustained various degrees of critical injuries.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has vowed to hunt down the perpetrators of the attack.
Reports say Mr. Awoonor’s son who was with him at the mall also sustained injuries but is currently responding to treatment.
Further source at Legon told SaharaReporters that Mr. Awoonor’s death “has put Ghanaians in a big mourning mood. He was a very beloved man, an honorable writer who believed in lifting up all Ghanaians”.
At various times, Mr. Awoonor, who was inspired by his country’s most well known nationalist figure, Kwame Nkrumah, also served as Ghana’s ambassador to Cuba, Brazil. From 1990 to 1994, he served as Ghana’s ambassador and permanent representative at the United Nations in New York City, heading the world body’s committee against apartheid.
Mr. Awoonor was a gifted writer and passionate promoter of African literature through his critical scholarship. His book of criticism, The Breast of the Earth, is widely regarded as an important foundational text in the appreciation of the links between the oral tradition in Africa and the continent’s modern literary traditions.