May Ayim: Six Facts About the African-German Activist

may ayim facts german african activist

May Ayim Facts

On February 27 2018, google celebrated Ghanaian-German poet, activist and author May Ayim with a doodle. Who was May Ayim?

  • May Ayim (full name: Sylvia Brigitte Gertrud Opitz) was born in 1960 in Hamburg. Her father was a medicine student from Ghana and her mother was from Germany. She was raised by a foster family.
  • She studied social education and wrote her thesis about the Afro-German history. According to May, the paper was rejected by a professor from Berlin who argumented that there was no racism in Germany.
  • Throughout her active years, May Ayim was celebrated as the “face” of the afro German movement.
  • Was one of the founding members of the Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland Bund e.V. ( = Initiative black people in Germany). One of her most famous works is called Farbe bekennen – Afrodeutsche Frauen auf den Spuren ihrer Geschichte ( = Putting one’s card on the table – Afro-German women on the traces of their history). It is considered as one of the most important works about the Afro-German movement.
  • According to May Ayim, she grew up with constantly feeling the pressure of always needing to prove to be a complete human being rather than a blackamoor, a mixed-kid and a child brought up in an institution.
  • Since her early 20s, May Ayim suffered from mental problems. Later on, she was also diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She died in 1996 after commiting suicide by jumping from a high-rise buiding in Berlin.

May Ayim Poems

  • They’re People Like Us
  • Nightsong
  • Afro-German I
  • Autumn in Germany
Featured image (cropped): May Ayim memorial plaqueOTFW Wikimedia – CC BY-SA 3.0

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