Photo credits to ROLEX

The Ghanaian writer Ayesha Harruna Attah, author of most recently Zainab Takes New York, has been selected by the British-Nigerian author and Booker Prize winner Bernardine Evaristo, as a protégé, for the 2023-24 cycle of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative.

The mentoring programme, which was established in 2002, pairs emerging, promising artists with more established figures in their respective fields. The artist are provided the opportunity to participate in a two-year long creative collaboration with the more experienced professionals. The goal is to aid in, the transmission of artistic knowledge and craft from one generation to the next.

Since its founding, the initiative has paired 63 of the world’s greatest artists with 63 highly talented younger professionals from around the globe. Some of the mentors have included the Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka, Senegalese music composer Youssou N’Dour, and Oscar-winning filmmaker Alejandro G. Inárritu.

Also included in the 2023-24 class are the Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui who selected South African visual artist Bronwyn Katz as his protégée; the Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhang-Ke who selected Filipino filmmaker Rafael Manuel; the French architect Anne Lacaton who selected Lebanese- Armenian architect Arine Aprahamian; and the American jazz singer Dianne Reeves who selected South Korean singer and composer Song Yi Jeon.

Read the Artists’ citations below:

Ayesha Harruna Attah

Part of a new generation of African writers who are making their name in literary circles, Senegal-based Ghanaian author Ayesha Harruna Attah has published five novels: Harmattan Rain (2009), Saturday’s Shadows (2015), The Hundred Wells of Salaga (2018), The Deep Blue Between (2020) and Zainab Takes New York (2022). In all of these works, she strives to create historical fiction that challenges existing preconceptions of African mores through her vibrant storytelling. Among her many accolades, Attah was a finalist in the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, long-listed for the Prix Les Afriques and shortlisted for the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize.

Bernardine Evaristo
Bernardine Evaristo was the first black woman and the first black British person to win the prestigious 2019 Booker Prize for her novel, Girl, Woman, Other. She is the author of 10 books that explore the African diaspora and numerous other works of short fiction, poetry, drama, essays and journalism. The Emperor’s Babe (2001) was named one of “100 Best Books of the Decade” by The Times of London in 2010. Most recently, she published Manifesto: On Never Giving Up (2021), her first book of non-fiction. Evaristo is President of the Royal Society of Literature, the first writer of color to hold the position in 200 years.

Read more here.