Amma Darko is a Ghanian writer and researcher. She studied Industrial Design and worked for a year in a center for technological counselling at the University of Kumasi. Afterwards, she travelled to Germany where she stayed from 1981 until 1987 and wrote her first novel, Beyond the Horizon which was published in German. Faceless is her third novel. Amma Darko enjoys research and spends a lot of time with interviews and in archives. For the novel Faceless, she put on dingy clothes and mingled with the inhabitants of the suburb “Sodom and Gomorrha” in Accra. In 2008, she received the most important literary prize in her country, the Ghana Book Award. Faceless has been selected for the official literature list of the West African Examination Council for Senior Secondary Schools and belongs now to the West African school canon.

By Dayo Okubule…http://www.bookstomydoor.com/faceless-by-amma-darko/


ModernGhana Online Radio Center…Personality Profiles | 25 January 2008

Ghanaian Novelist – Amma Darko…By awuraba

I am first and foremost a storyteller who feels inspired to create stories out of pertinent issues. As an African woman also, I feel inclined toward working around female issues. I don’t know where that places me in the writing world’s classifications, but I definitely do have some reservations about carrying the tag of ‘feminist writer’. The context in which the Western world perceives the term does not prevail here. Feminism is sort of placed in a tight and narrow square box. One perceived or labeled as a feminist whatever, is judged to be this aggressive man-hater who at best is a lesbian and who can be as worse as a butcher of masculinity. I tell stories and comment on situations. I would be completely satisfied to be perceived simply as a voice.

About Amma

The name “Amma” means Saturday born. It is common in Ghana to name a child after the day it was born. Amma Darko was born in Tamale in 1956. From Northern Ghana, she moved years later to the Ashanti Region. She studied at the university of Kumasi, where she received her diploma in 1980. Afterwards she worked for the Technology Consultancy Centre.
Then, in 1981, she travelled to Germany. Now she is living in Accra, the Ghanaian capital. She is working as tax inspector. This work gives her a of inspiration because she deals with interesting cases and people. She is married and has three children, so all together there is not as much time for writing as she would like to have.

On Her Writing

Darko had always loved books, but books were hard to find when she was growing up. She especially missed books about the experience of ordinary people living in contemporary Ghana. She chose a radical solution to her problem – to write those books.

Her first novel was published in Germany under the title Der Verkaufte Traum (Schmetterling Verlag, 1991) and consequently in English as Beyond the Horizon (Heinemann, 1995). It is the story of a Ghanaian woman who finds herself in a German brothel through a marriage fraud. The book was ranked among the Top Twelve of the 1995 Feminist Book Festival in Britain. Her second novel, The Housemaid (Heinemann, 1998), explores the complex relationships in contemporary rural Ghana where modernity, delivered through the media, increasingly penetrates tradition, but finds little nurturing soil for lack of education.
Her third novel, Faceless (Sub-Saharan Publishers, 2003) tells the story of street children in contemporary Accra. With a sense for naturalistic detail and humour, Darko explores the vicious circle created by the worst injustice while placing the story into a larger socio-political context.



1. Beyond the Horizon (Der verkaufte Traum), 1991
2. Spinnweben, 1996 (“Cobwebs”; no English version)
3. Verirrtes Herz, 2000 (“Stray heart”; no English version)
4. Faceless (Die Gesichtslosen), 2003
5. Film based on ‘Faceless’ gets award
6. Roaming Around, Germany 2007, 53 min – A German team produced a film based on the novel “Faceless”. Eva Maschke (camera) and Dominique Geisler (cut) were awarded the German Camera Prize 2007.
7. Not without Flowers (Das Lächeln der Nemesis), 2006

“Not without Flowers” is now available in English. If you are interested, please contact Sub-Saharan publishers:

Sub-Saharan Publishers, P.O.Box LG 358, Legon-Accra, Ghana, West Africa, Tel: 233-21-233371, Fax: 233-21-234251


The Housemaid (Das Hausmädchen), 1998

Reading Session
Watch Amma Darko in a Reading Session



Amma Darko

Amma Darko (born 1956) is a Ghanaain novelist.

Life and writing

She was born in Tamale, Ghana, and grew up in Accra. She studied in Kumasi, where she received her diploma in 1980. Then she worked for the Science and Technology Center in Kumasi. During the 1980s, she lived and worked for some time in Germany. She has since returned to Accra.

Her novels illustrate everyday life in Ghana. Her first novel, Beyond the Horizon, was originally published in German. Her most recent novels, Faceless and Not without flowers, were published in Ghana.

Her work has been discussed in Vincent O. Odamtten’s book Broadening the Horizon: Critical Introductions to Amma Darko,[1] in the 2001 doctoral thesis by Louise Allen Zak “Writing her way: a study of Ghanaian novelist Amma Darko”,[2] and in several academic journals.[3]


1991] 1995: Beyond the Horizon (Der verkaufte Traum). Heinemann/Schmetterling-Verl. ISBN 978-0-435-90990-1.

Darko’s first novel is influenced by her impressions of Germany, observing the interaction between Germans and Ghanaian immigrants. The book is about a young woman, Mara, who follows her husband to Germany, not knowing that he has married a German in the meantime. Though the book deals with serious topics such as illegal immigration, illegitimate marriage and prostitution, there is never any bitter morality in it.

1996: Spinnweben (“Cobwebs”; no English edition). Schmetterling-Verl. ISBN 978-3-926369-17-8.

Her second novel is a reflection about roots. There are dialogues between a Ghanaian living in German and the German friends around her.

2000: Verirrtes Herz (“Stray heart”; no English edition). Schmetterling-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-89657-119-9.

This is the first book that is completely set in Ghana. The young protagonist, Kesewa, is illiterate. She has to work hard for her parents and brothers and is unable to attend school regularly. In her adult life, she becomes distrustful and envious and causes a lot of trouble.

2003: Faceless (Die Gesichtslosen). Sub-Saharan Publishers/Schmetterling-Verl. ISBN 978-9988-550-50-9.

A novel about a middle-class woman coming into contact with street children who are living in a part of Accra known as “Sodom and Gomorrhah”.

2007: Not Without Flowers. Sub-Saharan Publishers. ISBN 978-9988-647-13-1.

In this book, the reader encounters some figures and institutions from the preceding novel. One of the central characters, Aggie, works for the NGO MUTE, which aims to create an archive and an alternative library. Aggie’s mother has a mental disorder and is kept in a prayer camp. Idan, Aggie’s husband, starts an affair with the very young Randa.

2015: Between Two Worlds. Sub-Saharan Publishers. ISBN 978-9988647933.

In this novel, two worlds converge: A Ghanaian man and a German woman fall in love in Germany, in the 1960s. Many years later, their grown-up twin daughters are confronted with information about the collapse of their parents’ marriage. The reader sees the situation from both angles. He gets to know how the man grows up in the British colony Gold Coast and the woman in post-war Germany. The novel also has a spiritual dimension. The topic of twins is very important as well as the natural religion of the Akan people in Ghana with their fetish and clan priests, libations and drumming. As in her previous novels, Darko’s humour shines through the serious topic.

2015: The Necklace of Tales. ASIN B00YVNNH9I.

This young readers’ book brings the charm of the traditional Kweku Ananse stories into the context of our modern world. For centuries, the stories of this African folktale character were handed down orally through storytelling. The stories originated from the Ashantis, who form part of the Akan tribe of Ghana. Kweku is the day name of a Wednesday-born male and Ananse is Akan for spiders. In this story, which is the first of a series, the Kweku Ananse tales are recounted through the experiences of an orphan girl named Obiba and by virtue of a mysterious set of beads. “The Necklace of Tales”, as the bead necklace is known, is as old as the universe. Inside it are captured the Kweku Ananse stories. It comes into the possession of the orphan Obiba, who is living a difficult life with her unkind aunt in Ghana’s capital Accra. The Kweku Ananse character is a spider with human characteristics. His eight limbs are often depicted as four arms and four legs. His special relationship with the Creator goes back to the time of creation. He is wise and cunning and a trickster. Every Kweku Ananse tale bears some subtle advice and words of wisdom. Told and retold by the captives from the Ashanti tribe during the trans-Atlantic slave trade, the Kweku Ananse stories spread to other parts of the world. They have evolved in places such as the southern parts of the USA, the West Indies and the Caribbean.[4]

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Ghanaian author Amma Darko tours Germany, her second home

Living astride two cultures, exploitation and the quest for happiness. These are some of the themes in the novels of the internationally acclaimed Ghanaian novelist.

The hall in the German city of Cologne is filled with people who have come to see and listen to one woman. The 57 -year-old author from Ghana Amma Darko.

Her braided hair and colorful blouse gives a young and cheerful impression as she keenly listens to an actor reading from her fifth novel which bears the title “Faceless.” It is about the street life of Fofo, a 14 -year-old girl in the slums of Ghana’s capital Accra. The main theme of the story is the vicious cycle of poverty and violence that drives children to streets and women to prostitution.

The novel was published in 2003.

Four years later, “Faceless” was the inspiration behind the award-winning documentary “Roaming Around.”

Amma Darko told the Cologne audience she discovered her talent for writing in the mid-1970s. “In my time writing was not acknowledged as something someone does, so if you were a writer and had a passion for it, you did it in private for fear of being laughed at,” the novelist said.

The reluctance to talk about her passion for writing changed when Amma Darko began studying at the University of Kumasi. She met a professor who encouraged her to keep on writing. However, she graduated in sociology. You could not study creative writing in Ghana in those days, she explained.

Life in Germany

After acquiring her sociology degree, Darko worked as a technical consultant. She then took a weighty decision. She was going to emigrate – to Germany! “I had the drive for adventure and wanted to simply break out,” Darko said, adding that “I was restless. I think the whole country was restless. Everybody was going away.”

The political upheaval in Ghana was at least partly to blame. In 13 years, the country went through five military coups.On 4 June, 1979, Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings seized power as chairman of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC). He had three previous leaders of military coups executed – Lieutenant General Fred Akuffo, General Ignatius Kutu Acheampong and Lieutenant General Akwasi Afrifa.

Many people left Ghana because they did not feel safe. With the help of a pen pal Amma Darko obtained a visa for Germany and moved to the city of Hildesheim in 1981.

“If I had not come to Germany, I would not have developed my writing,” Darko told DW in an interview. “I was able to focus, it takes a lot of passion and determination especially if you have never published before.”

The breakthrough

Despite her prolific output, Amma Darko found it hard to get her works published. She couldn’t find a publisher.But with the help of temporary jobs, she managed to stay afloat until her return to Ghana in 1987.

From then on, it was success. In 1991, Darko’s first novel, “Beyond the horizon,” was first published in German under the title “Der verkaufte Traum”. It is about a Ghanaian woman who follows her husband to Germany, believing she will earn money and win happiness. Instead, she is exploited by her husband and forced into prostitution. It became Germany’s best-selling novel by a black African writer.

“The book came out at a time when migration, prostitution and exploitation was a hot topic,” Darko said.

The book helped Darko to establish herself internationally. Since then, she has published five more novels.
In 2008 she won “Ghana’s Book Award”, the country’s highest literary accolade. “Faceless” is on the curriculum of many schools in West Africa.

Darko is just about to complete her latest book “Between two worlds.” It is also set in Ghana and Germany. “Whenever I bring out a new book, I go on tour,” she explains with a smile. “Germany is my second home.”






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