A tribute to May Ayim

I wonder

I wonder how you would sound live on stage, would age even show in your voice from that forever young visage!
I wonder as in live in life..filled with energy yet vulnerble as you spit out spoken word on Afro German heritage. And No! Youtube can't remediate that!!

I wonder why you left so soon....even before I packed my bags somewhere in central/west Africa and embarked on this journey. I had no idea what awaits me but you had started a fight that paved the way for many young black women like me in Germany.

I wonder how you would have embraced the progress the Initiative Schwarze Deutsche is making. As a pioneer member you can be proud of yourself.

I wonder how you dared to speak out for a minority on international platforms even though your thesis was rejected by your professor, on the same grounds we still confront. " Racism does not exist in Germany" You will be sad to learn that, it was only last November when I heard a professor make that same statement live in Humbolt University. In your Berlin, History is current!!

I wonder what it would be to have you at a book reading of Theodor Michael's "Deutsch Sein und Schwarz dazu" Oh God you would have added spice to the audience and brilliantly so!!

I wonder what you would have said to other brave women like Napuli Langa, who although drained from the odds and humiliations of a refugee, risked her last breath for a five days hunger strike on a tree right in the heart of Berlin. Maybe your poem would have read "Oranienplatz..the stage with a large audience yet nobody is listening"

I wonder what a panel with you, Katharina Oguntoye, Micheal Kueppers-Adebissi, Natasha Kelly, M. Yufanyi, Tahir Della, etc would be like......

I wonder how you would leap for joy, yes leap, that is if multiple sclerosis gave you a good chance on that day, at the opening of Vera Heyer Library in BERLIN. In Afrikanischer Viertel. May Ayim's Berlin!! You would have blown out our minds with an amazing performance of spoken word....I know!!

I wonder...would you have had a page on facebook..I would follow...or a tweety account?..those concious tweets would create awareness...and surely a youtube channel of you would show the world that Germany is part of the spoken word and poetry revolution...

Yet I DO NOT wonder that you live on....we will tell your story to other generations...You left too soon but played your part..we will play our part so you may live on.

Flowers and candles for May Ayim onher 54th birthday. Today. The lioness lives on....


 Who was May Ayim?

May Ayim  was born on 3 May 1960 in Hamburg, she died on  9 August 1996 in Berlin. 
She was an Afro-German poet, educator, and activist.
She was of biracial background: a german mother, Ursula Andler and a ghanian father, Emmanuel Ayim. At the time of her birth her father was a medical student and he wanted to have her raised by his childless sister, but that was not possible by German law because he was not married to Ayim's mother.  She was put in an orphanage and later adopted by the Opitz family, who raised her with their biological children. Thus officially she was called May Opitz. She later adopted her father's name Ayim as her pen name. 
She graduated from Friedenschule, the Episcopal School in Münster,  attended a teacher training college, specialising in german and social sciences. She then studied at the University of Regensburg , majoring in psychology and education. During this period she traveled to Israel, Kenya and Ghana, renewing her relationship with her biological father, now a professor of medicine. 
Her thesis written at the University of Regensburg, "Afro-Deutsche: Ihre Kultur- und Sozialgeschichte aus dem Hintergrund gesellschaftlicher Veränderungen" (Afro-Germans: Their Cultural and Social History on the Background of Social Change), was published in Farbe Bekennen: Afro-deutsche Frauen auf den Spuren ihrer Geschichte. It was also published in english as Showing Our Colors: Afro-German Women Speak Out. At this time she was also a pioneer member of the Initiative Schwarze Deutsche (Initiative of Black People in Germany).
 She settled in Berlin, lecturing at the Free University of Berlin. It was at this time that she adopted her father's name Ayim as her pen name. She was active as an educator and writer, taking part in many conferences at home and abroad, and publishing Blues in schwarz-weiss (Blues in Black and White).

In 1996, she suffered a mental and physical collapse. That same year she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She suffered from major depressions and took her own life by jumping from the thirteenth floor in Berlin.

Works and weblinks:

  • Farbe Bekennen. Afro-deutsche Frauen auf den Spuren ihrer Geschichte. Berlin 1986. at the time published as May Opitz.

  • May Ayim: Blues in Schwarz-Weiß, 3. Auflage, Berlin, Orlanda Frauen Verlag, 1996, ISBN 3929823233

  • May Ayim: Nachtgesang, Berlin, Orlanda Frauen Verlag, 1997, ISBN 392982339X

  • K. Oguntoye, M. Opitz, D. Schultz (Hrsg.): Farbe bekennen. Afro-deutsche Frauen auf den Spuren ihrer Geschichte, 2. Auflage, Berlin, Orlanda, 1991, ISBN 3-922166-21-0

  • Ika Hügel, Chris Lange, May Ayim (Hrsg.): Entfernte Verbindungen. Rassismus, Antisemitismus, Klassenunterdrückung, Berlin, Orlanda, 1999, ISBN 3922166911.
  • May Ayim Award - Erster internationaler schwarzer deutscher Literaturpreis 2004 - Piesche, P./Küppers, M./Ani, E./Alagiyawanna-Kadalie, A. (Hg.), Orlanda 3-936937-21-4 | 2004
 Commons: May Ayim –  A collection of Booksm Videos and Audiodata
  • May Ayim (1997): Die afro-deutsche Minderheit. In Susan Arndt (Hg.), 2001: AfrikaBilder, ISBN 3-89771-407-8