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AUTOBIOGRAPHY     –     1869-1935
Marthe Eféwélé Kwami's autobiography – written in Ewe, first published in German in 1938 and translated into French in 1943 – belongs among the very first texts written by an African woman writer. Born in 1896 in Accra, Marthe Kwami was the child of a teacher who fled the sacking of his Ewe homeland by the Ashanti army in the 1870s. The young man took refuge in the Gold Coast (nowadays Ghana), part of which was occupied by Germany until World War One. Marthe Eféwélé Kwami spent her life between many towns and villages of the region. This was due to her father's work-postings and, later, the teaching positions offered to her first husband who was also a teacher; after his death, she married a clergyman. She gave birth to eleven children and often had to manage this large family on her own. In spite of very tough times, her children did their mother proud, becoming gainfully employed as teachers, an engineer, a cook, an "assistant to the female doctor in Amédjofé", etc.

"Marthe Eféwélé Kwami", in Diedrich Westermann. Afrikaner erzhählen ihr Leben: Elf Selbstdarstellungen afrikanischer Eingeborener aller Bildungsgade und Berufe und aus allen Teilen Afrikas. Essen: Essener Verlagsanstalt, 1938. Translated in French under the title "Autobiographies d'Africains: onze autobiographies d'indigènes africains de tous niveaux scolaires, tous métiers et toutes régions de l'Afrique". Paris: Payot, 1943, 338p.
"Mme Marthe Eféwélé Kwami" [Archives jmv 2010 - pdf file - 6.6 MB]

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jmv - 2010