African Art Encyclopedia

GHANAIAN ART HISTORIAN, NANA OFORIATTA-AYIM IS CREATING 54-VOLUME ENCYCLOPEDIA ON AFRICAN CULTURE

I would go to the underground library vaults, and I would find theses that were so brilliant and interesting, and yet no one was looking at it and it is so valuable. I would get completely sidetracked reading about things like the technology of kente cloth. And at the same time I was also thinking that the narrative that is told about Africa is still the backward narrative: no innovation, it’s a historical and stuck. Yet with everything I was reading, it was stories of innovation, of knowledge, of technology.
— The New York Times
NANA OFORIATTA-AYIM

NANA OFORIATTA-AYIM

In 2009, the Ghanaian writer, filmmaker and art historian birthed the idea of compiling and creating an archive of African arts and culture. Her dreams of the encyclopedia project came to live well after she received a grant of $40,000 (12,580,000 Naira) from the Los Angeles County Museum. The cultural project includes 54 separate volumes for each African country. The sole aim is to educate Africans about their holistic culture, and not thave them just know about their immediate regions and its cultures also it seeks to preserve the rich culture of our people.

This project will be a mobile and physical/hand held museum; While it will take a while for each country's volume to roll out maybe months or even years as we believe she would need memorabilia and collaborations with voices, organizations and creatives in respective countries to have the manual as in-depth and complete as it should be to ensure it serves its purpose.

NANA OFORIATTA-AYIM

NANA OFORIATTA-AYIM

So if other countries are going to take it on, then we are going to have a manual like, ‘this is how we collect things, this is what we did wrong and this is what we did right.’ There is no reason that, once we have the manual, there can’t be five countries at the same time working. So what I am doing is building teams in different countries.

Oforiatta-Ayim in a bid to get Ghana's culture in the encyclopedia, worked with Sir David Adjaye—the architect behind the National Museum of African American History and Culture‘s building and has been able to put together a team of Ghanaian musicians, filmmakers, photographers, writers and more to help curate and edit the encyclopedia’s first volume. 

Follow her on Instagram: @ano-ghana

and twitter: @ANOghana