Tribute to Yulisa Amadu Maddy aka Pat Maddy, angry Sierra Leone playwright, novelist and actor (1936-2014)

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Pat was in the same generation of African writers as Achebe, Peters, Ngugi, Amadi and the rest of the classical African writers who were published in the famous Heinemann African Writers Series, edited by the late Chinua Achebe, from 1960 to 1990. He blazed the trail and inspired a younger generation of Sierra Leone writers such as the equally implacable social critic, the poet and novelist Sly Cheney Coker.

Pat like Syl spent many decades living anywhere else except in Sierra Leone, fleeing dictatorships, civil war and an indifferent audience. Indeed, Pat only returned home a few months ago to teach at the Milton Margai Teachers College in Freetown.

‘I am writing for the man in the street, the labourer, the  children… not the elites of my country… i am going for the masses… I am not interested in the archaic cultures but in the indigenous cultures of my people..’ he told an interviewer in 1975.

His numerous plays such as Obasai (1971); Take Tem Draw Di Rope, Freetown, (1975); Big Berrin (big funeral) 1976, were mostly written in Krio, the lingua franca of Sierra Leone, and lampooned misrule and venality. 

Indeed, Sierra Leone has produced great playwrights such as the late Dele Charley (1948-1993) of the Tabule theatre, and Professor Davidson Nicol (1924-1994), but Pat remains the great giant who towers over them in prolificacy and candour. Now, that the great Pat is no more, Sierra Leone literature has to depend on the new generation of writers such as Ismael Beah, Arthur Smith, and Paul Conton for its future flourish and finesse. May his soul rest in peace.

Yulisa Amadu Maddy aka Pat Maddy (Sierra Leone playwright, poet, novelist and cultural animator, born Freetown 1936-died March 16 2014)

Author: Hassoum Ceesay

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