After suffering from a nervous breakdown in her early twenties Pamela Ohene-Nyako used black literature as her therapy. Her remedy led to a multiplatform literary initiative called Afrolitt that spans across continents and bridges the divide through open dialogue.
We met Ohene-Nyako during a two-week trek across Ghana where Africans in the diaspora gathered to learn about heritage while creating thought-provoking work. The journey formed part of the Indelibl Discover Tour, a social commerce platform dedicated to promoting the works of black/African artists.
Now 27-years-old, Ohene-Nyako’s platform has grown significantly. Using videography, performance, group discussions and workshops, Afrolitt encourages conversation around social issues in both Ghana and Switzerland.
Founded in 2016, the bilingual platform – French and English – is a reflection of Ohene-Nyako’s own background.
Born in the French part of Switzerland to a white mother of mixed background (German, Spanish, Swiss and Filipino) and a black father of Ghanaian origin, she sees herself as transnational but she’s perceived as a black person. How she’s perceived is reflected in her lived experiences.
“Initially, black literature had been therapeutic for me and I felt that other people, in particular people from the black diaspora, could also benefit from it if information circulated more on what book or author could be interesting reads,” she explains.
“More recently – and as a result of reading a lot of black speculative fiction and black fantasy – I feel like some works can really open up one’s imagination and help us envision inclusive and liberated futures.”
We’ve seen this reimagining of the black identity manifest in several works of art. For example, Salim Busuru’s comic series Rovic tells the story of an African migrant in a Star Wars-like environment.
These stories break through the barriers to representation, says Ohene-Nyako. “Nonetheless, it should be accompanied by analysis and actions that tackle material issues such as access to socio-economic and political resources, rather than solely remain in the realm of symbolic advancement.”
An extension of Afrolitt is their The Afrolitt web series (TAW), which sees guests sit down and have thought-provoking conversations surrounding a contemporary black novelist. The series is set in Accra with a focus on Ghanaian literature.
Ohene-Nyako, who is the creator, producer and the host, often films the series in places that have a direct connection with the novel at hand.
The series, which you can find on Youtube, is presented in a casual setting with its guests tackling black literature.
Ohene-Nyako is currently applying for funds to produce the second season of 'The Afrolitt Web series Ghana'.
Her multiplatform approach helps to cover an ever-evolving Pan-African dialogue. “It helps to sustain or enable a politics of solidarity between a large diversity of people of African descent, whether based on the Continent or from the diaspora,” explains Ohene-Nyako.
“Because we are so diverse, and because our interests and representations can vary enormously, the more we communicate, the easier it will be to create a basis for understanding, empathy, and political alliances.”
Ohene-Nyako is currently a teaching assistant and PhD candidate at the University of Geneva. Her research is based on the transnational activism of Black European women from the 1960s to early 2000s.
In the coming years, she hopes to develop more activities in Accra and in other European cities such as London, Amsterdam and Paris.