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‘Maame’ Is The Coming Of Age Story For Black Women Who Had To Grow Up Too Fast

In her family home in Croydon lives Madeleine (Maddie) Wright and her dad. Her brother lives about 10 miles away in Putney and her mum is often thousands of miles away, spending a year at a time in Ghana.

Since she was a teenager, Maddie’s mostly been left alone to care for her dad, who has Parkinson’s disease – preparing his meals, cleaning his room, arranging his GP appointments and covering the household bills and council tax.

Pressured with an abundance of responsibility, she has become Maame.

In Ghanaian culture, while ‘maame’ means ‘woman’ and is perceived as a term of endearment, when applied to young girls the term also speaks to the common expectation for black girls to grow up and mature too quickly, becoming women way before their time.

While Maddie is a fictional character, she is largely based on Maame’s author Jessica George, who wrote her debut novel as a tribute to her late father. Black Ballad caught up with Jessica to discuss her personal story through the eyes of 25-year-old Maddie.

Note: the interview has been shortened and edited for publication.