Oxford University in the UK has appointed distinguished Ghanaian writer and art historian, Nana Ofosuaa Oforiatta Ayim, to its Advisory Council.
It is rare to have a young African woman determining the paths of future leaders as well as the cultural policies of Oxford Universities, where more world leaders have passed through any other institution.
In a letter signed by the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, Professor Louise Richardson, her appointment took effect in January 2020.
She is expected to help advise, guide and inform, and bring external perspectives from across the spectrum of culture to the Advisory Council.
She is also expected among others to serve as an Ambassador for the Cultural Programme of Oxford University.
Nana Oforiatta Ayim is a writer, filmmaker, and art historian. She studied Russian and Politics, and worked for the Eastern European section of the Department of Political Affairs of the United Nations in New York.
She also holds a Master’s Degree in African Art History and worked at many international cultural institutions, including The British Museum. She is a global speaker on cultural narratives and institution building in countries like Ghana, Senegal, the UK, US, Germany, Holland, Denmark, France, and Brazil, and this year will speak at both Harvard and Yale; as well as writing for publications like Frieze, ArtNews, African Metropolitan Architecture.
Nana Oforiatta Ayim has made several films, a cross of fiction, travel essay, and documentary, that have been shown at museums like The New Museum, Tate Modern, and LACMA. As an international curator, she facilitated and led Ghana to its first pavilion at the Venice Biennale.
The Venice Biennale is the Olympics of the art world, and all strong nations are represented, although it’s not always easy for African nations to have a presence in Venice, for reasons ranging from the economic and the geographic to the complexities of the Biennale system itself. In 2017 Nigeria came, but as a private initiative; it did not return last year, and Algeria dropped out at the last minute.
Oforiatta Ayim has received multiple awards for her work. She is the recipient of the 2015 Art & Technology Award from LACMA in the United States; of the 2016 AIR Award, which “seeks to honour and celebrate extraordinary African artists who are committed to producing provocative, innovative and socially-engaging work”; of the inaugural 2018 Soros Arts Fellowship.
She has been named one of the Apollo ’40 under 40’; one of 50 African Trailblazers by The Africa Report; one of 12 African women making history by Okayafrica; and a Quartz Africa Innovator; and was a 2018 Global South Visiting Fellow at Oxford University. Her first novel, The God Child, was published by Bloomsbury Publishing in November 2019, and has been reviewed widely in the international Financial Times, The Guardian UK, Vogue US and many other publications. She has also been appointed to the steering committee of the Open Society Foundation’s $15 million African Cultural Restitution Initiative
Nana Ofosuaa Oforiatta Ayim, who is the founder and director of ANO, an Accra based “Institute of Arts & Knowledge” which since 2002 has presented cultural and educational programmes across many parts of Ghana, Africa, and the world as a whole, to connect African cultures with development.
In her bid to expose the African arts and culture to the world, Oforiatta Ayim has introduced many initiatives, including the Mobile Museum Project and The Cultural Encyclopaedia, a Pan-African archive initiative devoted to past, present and future culture from around the African continent.
With her organization, the ANO Institute of Arts and Knowledge in Osu, as well as with her work as a writer, filmmaker, historian, artist, and organizer, she has grand ambitions for writing and rewriting narratives of the African continent and Diaspora.