Nana Ofosuaa Oforiatta Ayim wins world’s biggest history prize

Nana Ofosuaa Oforiatta Ayim has been awarded the world’s biggest history prize founded by Romanian philanthropist Dan David, with an annual purse of $3 million for outstanding early and mid-career scholars and practitioners in the historical disciplines.

In the past, the award has been won by outstanding thinkers, such as environmental advocate Al Gore; leader of the Smithsonians Lonnie Bunch; filmmakers The Coen Brothers; novelist Jamaica Kincaid; founder of Wikipedia Jimmie Wales; theatre director Peter Brook; playwright Tom Stoppard; musician Yo-Yo Ma.

Nana Ofosuaa Oforiatta Ayim is the first Ghanaian to win this award.

For Al Jazeera, she discusses the consequences of centuries of colonialism with Nobel Prize winner Abdulrazak Gurnah, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 2021. Originally from Tanzania, his fiction reflects the ethnic diversity of East Africa, exploring issues such as migration and cultural uprooting.

Art historian, writer and filmmaker Nana Ofosuaa Oforiatta Ayim has developed a new language to talk about African art that does not replicate Western concepts, pioneering a pan-African Cultural Encyclopedia and a Mobile Museums project in Ghana.

While coming from different perspectives, Gurnah and Ayim both create work that questions simple narratives and structures built on imperial models.

They explore how to remember a past deliberately eclipsed and erased by colonialism.


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