Mama Akua N. Ishangi

Akua Ishangi
BAM Affiliation Ifayimika Akua Nyamekye Ishangi, Executive Director of Ishangi International LLC, is a cultural preservationist, educator, patron of the arts, and entrepreneur. She toured with the Ishangi African Dancers from 1971 to 2003 as one of its’ primary dancers/musicians, using the stage as classroom… teaching African folklore, cultural diversity, tolerance and respect.

In addition to serving as the company’s administrative business manager, her expertise garnered two grants from Arts International facilitating a performance of the dance company at the 2001 PANAFEST / Emancipation Celebration in Ghana, in addition to a phenomenal presentation at the 2002 Roots Homecoming festival in the Gambia, West Africa. The Ishangi Dancers traveled extensively in Africa, the Caribbean, North, and South America, receiving international acclaim for their artistry and professionalism.

As a folklorist, Iya Akua is inspired and enthusiastic about sharing African history and culture. Her motto: Knowledge of culture and tradition give us identity and direction. She is curator of several African art exhibitions: “Africa’s Living Arts: the Ishangi Journey,” presented in 2004, “Africa’s Living Arts: the Spirit of the Masquerade” in 2007, and 2009, “Africa’s Living Arts: Textiles – Silent Oratory.” All three exhibitions showcased at the historic Ritz Theater & LaVilla Museum in Jacksonville, Florida.

As a DanceAfrica New York arts educator, Iya Akua conducts youth workshops that inform and motivate: ‘Waist Bead Beautiful: Ideals of Feminine Beauty,’ ‘African Art and Girl’s Empowerment,’ Adinkra stamping, African cuisine, and storytelling highlight and emphasize the importance of traditional heritage and cultural mores.

Ishangi Kunda, in the village of Tanji the Gambia, is the final resting place of the incomparable Baba Kwame Ishangi. Iya Akua is custodian of the Ancestral Gardens at Ishangi Kunda, where flowering trees are planted in honor of the champions of African dance and culture in America, icons like Professor Pearl Primus, Babatunde Olatunji, Chief Bey, Nana Dinizulu, and others.