Nana Ofosuaa Oforiatta Ayim Wins “Dan David” History Award
Ghanaian writer, filmmaker and art historian, Nana Oforiatta Ayim has been awarded the world’s largest history prize founded by Romanian philanthropist, Dan David, for her outstanding work in preserving African history through the arts .
The Dan David History Prize is awarded to outstanding early and mid-career scholars and practitioners in the historical disciplines.
In the past, the award has been won by outstanding thinkers, including environmental advocate, Al Gore; Leader of the Smithsonians, Lonnie Bunch; Filmmakers, The Coen Brothers; novelist Jamaica Kincaid; Wikipedia founder, Jimmie Wales; theater director, Peter Brook; playwright, Tom Stoppard; and musician, Yo-Yo Ma.
Nana Oforiatta Ayim is the first Ghanaian to win the award. She is the founder of the ANO Institute of Arts and Knowledge, an initiative through which she launched projects such as The Mobile Museum and The Pan-African Cultural Encyclopaedia; curator of exhibitions such as the first Ghana pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2019.
She was named one of the 12 African Women Making History in 2016 and one of the 100 Women of 2020 by Okayafrica.
As a writer she has contributed to publications such as Frieze, ArtNews, African Metropolitan Architecture and her debut novel The God Child was published by Bloomsbury Publishing in 2019.
She published her first novel, The God Child with Bloomsbury in 2019, and with Penguin in German in 2021.
She has made award-winning films for museums such as Tate Modern, LACMA and The New Museum. She teaches a course in history and theory at the Architectural Association in London.
In 2015, she received the Art & Technology prize from LACMA; the 2016 AIR Prize, which “aims to honor and celebrate extraordinary African artists who are committed to producing provocative, innovative and socially engaging works”; a 2018 Soros Arts Fellowship, was a 2018 Global South Visiting Fellow at the University of Oxford, was appointed to the University of Oxford’s Cultural Program Advisory Board in 2020, was a Senior Fellow of the Action for Restitution to Africa.
She is currently an unpaid Special Advisor to the Ghanaian Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture on Museums and Cultural Heritage, overseeing plans to restructure the museum sector.
His main concern is how to make museums relevant to communities across the country, not just a few, and to be a space in which Ghanaians can see themselves reflected and their voices heard.
Having won the award, she has been on a number of platforms including Al Jazeera to discuss the consequences of centuries of colonialism with Nobel laureate Abdulrazak Gurnah.
As an art historian, Nana Oforiatta Ayim has developed a new language for talking about African art that does not replicate Western concepts, pioneering a pan-African cultural encyclopedia and mobile museums project in Ghana .