Kofi Awoonor, the Ghanaian poet who studied and taught in the United States, was killed in the terrorist attack at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya. He was 78 years old. Professor Awoonor was in Kenya to attend the Storymoja Hay Festival, a four-day celebration of African writing, storytelling, and poetry.
Professor Awoonor was a graduate of the University of Ghana. He earned a master’s degree at University College in London and a Ph.D. in comparative literature at Stony Brook University, a campus of the State University of New York. He later served as chair of the department of comparative literature at Stony Brook. After returning to Ghana in 1975 to head the English department at the University of Cape Coast, he became a political activist. He served as his country’s ambassador to the United Nations from 1990 to 1994.