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Anna Nyakana: The Chieftess of the Niyah Zuri Tribe

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Photo Cred: Ivan Lopez

“Who and What is Niyah Zuri?” you may ask. “It means Beautiful Purpose in Swahili, and I chose that name on purpose and for a purpose,” states Anna Nyakana, the award-winning creator behind the movement. Anna is responsible for the Niyah Zuri children’s book series, most notably the bestselling Niyah Zuri and The Pharaoh’s Throne, which has grown to new heights in popularity as it enters countless school districts across the country. The book series follows a fearless and curly-headed heroine, Niyah Zuri, as she and her best friends the Gonzales Twins time travel to ancient lands to assist other children from history overcome obstacles. It fulfills the need for representation in kids literature while also highlighting history, youth empowerment, and STEM. 

Born in Berlin, Germany in 1986, Nyakana is of Ugandan and German-Moldavian descent. Her family immigrated to the US in the ’90s and she began her journey of self-discovery in a very Black-and-White American society, all the while never letting go of the culture she hailed from. Her passion to bring diversity to the classroom is very much rooted in her own cultural pride and is perfectly captured in her vision statement, “Children should see a reflection of themselves in the books that they read. My mission is to inspire them, one adventure at a time.” 

Photo Cred: Ivan Lopez

Building upon her book series, Anna Nyakana is giving the Niyah Zuri Tribe another source of motivation to literally tap into; the digital world. Anna has created an animated cartoon series titled, Adventures with Niyah Zuri, which she is currently pitching to networks. When asked about her reasons for creating the cartoon she shared, “I seldom identified with a character on the cover of a book and that was the same case when I turned on the TV, even if there were only a handful of channels. Our hue deserves to be represented in the pixels and with the amount of screens in our kid’s hands these days, there’s no reason why they can’t learn about their own glorious history and that of others, all while gaining a new love of literacy through exploration! I vow to do my part to make even a screen an unmistakable tool for a child to discover the worth of their own melanated element.” Nyakana is leaving no stone unturned as she leans on her #NoDaysOff mantra to bridge the gap of representation from books to animation and beyond!

The multi-talented author, motivational speaker, mother of two, and soon-to-be producer will stop at nothing to spread the Niyah Zuri fundamentals of diversity, unity, love, and progression. Her unyielding passion for empowering the youth to “walk in their dreams” instead of chasing them and understanding that “nothing is impossible” has catapulted Anna Nyakana to a global role model all children and adults can aspire to be and learn from. 

Photo Cred: Ivan Lopez

Anna Nyakana has been featured on countless media outlets  and publications including SiriusXM, FOX, FOX Soul, FOX 61, Entercom Radio, NBC, ABC, Sheen Magazine, Medium, PopFuzion TV, and News 12 Connecticut. She recently received inclusion in Connecticut Magazine’s 2021 “40 Under 40” List and graced the February front cover to represent the 2021 Class; this honor following the non-stop recognition of this pioneer including the 2020 “100 Women of Color Award” and Class Valedictorian and proclamations from the Lt. Governor of the State of Connecticut and Connecticut House of Representatives. 

The Chieftess has a very clear and undeniable vision of growing her Tribe, stating, “This is more than a book, this is more than a cartoon, this is a movement! So what are you waiting for to live purposefully in your life? You deserve to reach your fullest potential, let’s go!” 

Visit www.annanyakana.com to order books, download free parent and teacher resources, and keep up with the latest news. You can follow Anna Nyakana on all social media platforms as @Niyah_Zuri.

CEO of Penske Media Group. Experienced Content Editor with a demonstrated history of working in the newspaper industry. Spoken on stages around the globe - NYU, US Embassy, P&G Toronto, and much more.

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