Kofi Awoonor's novels, poems, and literary criticism have been acclaimed in many countries. Nevertheless, he is probably best known in the United States for the harassment and imprisonment he suffered in his native country of Ghana three years ago.
Awoonor was arrested on December 31, 1975, in Cape Coast, Ghana, and held without charges for several months. A number of human rights organizations issued strong protests. Amnesty International, International P.E.N., P.E.N. American Center (Bernard Malamud, Jerzy Kosinski, Muriel Rukeyser, Allen Ginsberg, Alfred Kazin, and Thomas Fleming were among those who spoke out on his behalf), and the Committee to Free Kofi Awoonor, based at Stony Brook on Long Island, were some of the more vocal protestors.