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Nana Oforiatta Ayim Books In Order

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Ghana Freedom: Ghana Pavilion at the 58th International Art Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia.(2019)Description / Buy at Amazon

Nana Oforiatta Ayim is an art historian, filmmaker and author best known for her debut novel “The God Child.” Ayim was born to an influential Ghanaian family that held a chieftaincy. In the pre-independence era the reigning king of Akyem Abuakwa was Nana Sir Ofori Atta I, her maternal grandfather. Oforiatta who comes from one of the most powerful political families in Ghana was brought up in England and Germany but also spent some time in Ghana her ancestral homeland. She has a bachelors and masters degree and is working to get her PhD in African cultures and languages from the University of London. She published her debut work “The God Child” in 2019 and then followed it up with “Ghana Freedom” in the same year. Nana’s work is a quest to understand the different cultural contexts and how they are connected to each other. She also seeks to provide a voice to the understanding of the culture in which the communities and actors she writes about live. Besides filmmaking, art history and writing, she is also the founder of the Accra based ANO Institute of Knowledge and Arts. Through the institution, she has created the critically acclaimed African Cultural Encyclopedia. The project intends to archive and map contemporary and historical culture across Africa. Among her many achievements, she is also the curator of the Venice Biennale in 2019, which happens to be Ghana’s first pavilion.

Oforiatta Ayim has spoken widely on institution building and cultural narratives in Africa at institutions such as Cambridge University and the British Museum. She has also written pieces for the likes of “African Metropolitan Architecture” and “frieze” before she published “The God Child” her debut novel with Bloomsbury Publishing in 2019. Nana Ayim has also produced several films that were a combination of documentary, travel essay and fiction that have been shown at a variety of places such as LACMA, Tate Modern and The New Museum. For her work, she won the LACMA Art and Technology Award in 2015. The AIR Award that she won in 2016 was established to celebrate and honor extraordinary African creatives that are dedicated to the production of socially engaging, innovative and provocative work. She is the winner of the Soros Arts Fellowship Award in 2018, a Quartz Africa Innovator and was named in the list of Apollo 40 under 40, The Africa Report’s 50 African Trailblazers and Okaya Africa’s 12 women making history. In 2018, she was a visiting fellow at the TORCH Global South.

Nana Oforiatta Ayim’s journey towards becoming a published author started when she was a teen. As a sixteen year old, she was lying on her bed when the idea of the lead of her novel came into her head. It remained under the surface until it bubbled up once again when she was twenty three. She knew she wanted to write but what she wanted to achieve seemed so huge and insurmountable and she did not know how to go about it. When she started Nana was writing a very different kind of novel from what it is now. She had two characters in Maya and a man in his seventies. Nana found that she could write better and more truthfully in Maya’s voice as opposed to that of the old man whom she could not fully inhabit. Maya was a character that had always been there and Ayim combined the stories she had observed and heard, and her own spiritual impulses to create an incredible story rather than just an avatar. It took her a decade to write her debut which follows a Ghanaian woman that spends much of her adolescent and childhood years in Europe, but learns to take back her cultural history and story. The mobile museum project that she recently launched has a similar theme. The museum which showcases the stories of the Ghanaian people can be taken apart and transported anywhere across Ghana.

Nana Oforiatta Ayim’s “The God Child” is the story of Maya, a girl that grew up in Germany and always knew that her parents were different from the rest of the world and from each other. Her father is studious and reserved and tends to be distant while her mother is volatile, beautiful and a whirlwind of a woman who tells fascinating takes of the glories of her family. And then Kojo her cousin arrives at their home one Christmas. Kojo tells stories of Ghana in a way Maya has never heard before. He tells of how the colonialists arrived to whisk away all the country’s treasures and its soul. For the first time, Maya gets to understand why her parents who have made their home in Germany have changed so much from what they used to be back in the homeland. But then Kojo and Maya are separated when she has to go to school in England where the maddening rituals of Empire are laid bare. Coming back home to Ghana as a young woman, Maya reconnects with her increasingly troubled cousin Kojo who is as fascinating as ever. The homecoming may be the trigger for the exorcising of the country’s and family’s darkest demons. It is in the wake of the chaos that she decides that she was destined to tell the story of the loss of their land, her cousin and her mother in her own voice and on her own terms.

Nana Oforiatta’s “Ghana Freedom” is a rich catalogue that accompanies the first national pavilion in Ghana. It is the groundbreaking work of six artists from the country and the Diaspora. It is an examination of the trajectories and legacies of freedom starting in independence in the 1960s to the present. It showcases the work of the likes of Lynette Yiadom Boakye, Felicia Abban, Selasi Awusi Sosu, John Akomfrah, Ibrahim Mahama, and El Anatsui. These artists have their unique works explained in short cryptic texts written by Ghanaian art critics. Essays written by distinguished poets such as Taiye Selasi and Kwame Anthony Appiah are a reflection on the themes of freedom in Ghana. Okwui Enwezor the advisor and Sir David Adjaye the exhibition architect have a talk about the critically acclaimed work by Adjaye. The publication is also supplemented by a bibliography and artist biographies.

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