Maddy, Yulisa Amadu 1936-
MADDY, Yulisa Amadu 1936-
(Pat Amadu Maddy)
PERSONAL: Born December 27, 1936, in Freetown, Sierra Leone; married Abibatu Kamara, 1986; children: six. Education: Rose Bruford College, diploma, 1965; City of London University, postgraduate diploma in arts administration.
ADDRESSES: Home—19 Francis St., Leeds, Yorkshire LS7 4BY, England.
CAREER: Playwright, novelist, director, educator, and Africanist scholar. Formerly worked for Sierra Leone Railways; radio producer in Denmark and Britain, c. early 1960s; Comedia Hus, Copenhagen, Denmark, director and dancer, 1966; British Council Theatre, Freetown, Sierra Leone, director and actor, 1968-69; Evelyn Hone College, University of Zambia, Lusaka, tutor in drama and African literature, 1969-70; Keskidee Arts Centre, London, England, artistic director, 1971-73; Sierra Leone Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Freetown, acting director, 1974-77; Morley College, London, instructor in dance and drama, 1979-80; Ibadan University, Nigeria, fellow in theatre arts, 1980-81; Ilorin University, Nigeria, senior lecturer in performing arts, 1981-83; Special Education Resource Center, Bridgeport, CT, visiting professor of performing arts, 1983-85; Gbakanda Afrikan Tiata, Leeds, artistic director, 1986—. Fulbright senior scholar, University of Maryland, College Park, and Morgan State College, Baltimore, MD, 1985-86; research fellow, Leeds University, England, 1986—. University of Iowa, affiliated with African-American world studies program. Director of theatrical and television productions, including The Trials of Brother Jero, Copenhagen, Denmark, 1966; The Chattering and the Song, Ilorin, Nigeria, 1983; and Twelve Days at the Round House, London, 1986, as well as his own plays. Actor in stage plays, including The Trials of Brother Jero, 1968; Sights of a Slave's Dream, London, 1973; and Pulse, London, 1979; as well as his own works.
AWARDS, HONORS: Sierra Leone National Arts Festival prize for fiction, 1973; Gulbenkian grant, 1978; Edinburgh Festival award, 1979.
Alla Gbah, produced in London, 1967.
(Under name Pat Amadu Maddy) Obasai and OtherPlays (also see bewow; contains Alla Gbah, Gbana-Bendu, and Yon-Kon), Heinemann (London, England), 1971.
Life Everlasting (produced in London, England, 1972), published in Short African Plays, edited by Cosmo Pieterse, Heinemann (London, England), 1972.
Gbana-Bendu, produced in London, England, 1973, produced in Baltimore, MD, 1986.
Big Breeze Blow (produced in Freetown, Sierra Leone, 1974), privately printed, 1984.
Take Tem Draw di Rope, produced in Freetown, Sierra Leone, 1975.
Put for Me, produced in Freetown, Sierra Leone, 1975.
Nah We Yone Dehn See, produced in Freetown, Sierra Leone, 1975.
Big Berrin (produced in Freetown, Sierra Leone, 1976; produced in Washington, DC, 1984), privately printed, 1984.
A Journey into Christmas, produced in Ibadan, Nigeria, 1980.
Yon-Kon, produced in Bridgeport, CT, 1984.
Drums, Voices, and Words, produced in London, England, 1985.
Also author of radio play If Wishes Were Horses, 1963; author of plays for Cross River Broadcasting, Sierra Leone Broadcasting, and Zambia Broadcasting; television writing for Saturday Night Out (series), broadcast in Nigeria, 1980; and Yon-Kon, broadcast in Nigeria, 1982. Early plays produce or published under name Pat Amadu Maddy.
Ny Afrikansk Prose (short stories), edited by Ulla Ryum, Vendelkaer (Copenhagen, Denmark), 1967.
No Past, No Present, No Future (novel), Heinemann (London, England), 1973.
(With Donnarae MacCann) African Images in JuvenileLiterature: Commentaries on Neocolonialist Fiction (nonfiction), McFarland (Jefferson, NC), 1996.
(With Donnarae MacCann) Ambivalent Signals inSouth-African Young-Adult Novels (nonfiction), 1998.
(With Donnarae MacCann) Apartheid and Racism inSouth African Children's Literature, 1985-1995 (nonfiction), Routledge (New York, NY), 2001.
SIDELIGHTS: Writer and scholar Yulisa Amadu Maddy is extremely committed to human rights, and his plays speak to the masses from the perspective and voices of oppressed African peasants and laborers. In fact, Maddy—who writes most of his plays in Pidgin English and local languages—was imprisoned for penning Big Berrin, a play that depicts the corruption rife within Sierra Leone's social and political establishment. Focusing on religious leaders, politicians, and businessmen, the play contrasts the lifestyles of the country's elite with the desperate and virtually doomed situation of the country's urban poor. As he has in other works, in the long play Gbana-Bendu, Maddy targets Africa's ruling class and, in particular, the elite Europeanized Creoles of Sierra Leone, who have robbed both Africa and its people.
Maddy's work as a playwright extended through the 1980s, and his dramas consistently created controversy. As he commented in Contemporary Dramatists, "It will never be easy for most critics to be enthusiastic about my plays because they cannot discuss my characters without destroying them. My critics expose their own limitations with regard to their ignorance of the grassroots, the vital human relationships that I share very closely with those characters in their own world."
In his novel No Past, No Present, No Future, Maddy adopts a cynical position from which he depicts Africa's postcolonial mentality and residual British baggage. To iluustrate his theme he presents as characters three adolescent African boys from disparate backgrounds. The boys have already lined their pockets by serving in positions described by a New Internationalist reviewer as "petty officialdom"; now they decide to set off for England to earn degrees and return boastfully. In England, however, the three young men experience what the reviewer called the "soul-deadening existence of the student in exile," living on the edge of poverty in rented rooms and suffering bigotry both from the whites and their own perverted perspectives. Maddy's theme, however, is corruption, not just in politics, but deep in the human soul. No Past, No Present, No Future "rips along at a crackling pace, the writing is unfussy yet accomplished and its moments of insight are numerous," maintained the New Internationalist critic.
More recently Maddy had transferred his interest to nonfiction, and his work in this genre has been characteristically provocative. In African Images in Juvenile Literature: Commentaries on Neocolonialist Fiction, coauthored with Donnarae MacCann, Maddy "vigorously condemns stereotyping about Africa and blast the prevailing tendency to trivialize racism—elements that do not promote peace," according to Osayimwense Osa in Research in African Literatures. Osa noted that the coauthors "mince no words," bluntly stating in the preface: "We are opposing a force that colonizes the mind, inhibits group freedom, rationalizes exploitation, and generally enfeebles a person's sense of worth as a human being. To counteract such a blight requires no special pleading. Instead, our position is integral to our understanding of 'White supremacy' as a myth, as a malleable imposition on human life."
Maddy again collaborated with MacCann on Apartheid and Racism in South African Children's Literature, 1985-1995. Reviewing this nonfiction work, Barbara Scharioth commented in Bookbird that it will likely create controversy because "its authors argue that children's and young adult literature from the period of political change in South Africa clashes with the basic tenets of Anti-Apartheid."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Dramatists, sixth edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.
Etherton, Michael, The Development of African Drama, Hutchinson (London, England), 1982.
Maddy, James, and Donnarae MacCann, African Images in Juvenile Literature: Commentaries on Neocolonialist Fiction, McFarland (Jefferson, NC), 1996.
Bookbird, July, 2004, Barbara Scharioth, review of Apartheid and Racism in South African Children's Literature, 1985-1995, p. 64.
Emergency Librarian, September-October, 1997, Bessie Condos Tichauer, review of African Images in Juvenile Literature: Commentaries on Neocolonialist Fiction, p. 36.
New Internationalist, March, 1997, review of No Past,No Present, No Future, p. 32.
Research in African Literature, winter, 1998, Osayimwense Osa, review of African Images, p. 216.
West Africa (London, England), May, 1988, Chris Dunton "Empathy with the Deprived," pp. 968-969.*