Akuba @ Victoria Climbie Conference courtesy of Ra
Akuba @ the British Musem , 2009 coutesy of TUUPM

Former university lecturer, Akuba (aka Grace Quansah), began Spoken Word performances from 1997. Her achievements include ‘Aspiring Female Storyteller’ (Black Women in the Arts, 2006/2007), and winner of ‘Random House Children’s Books’ writing competition (2006). ‘The Awakening of Elmina’ is published in Malorie Blackman’s, Unheard Voices (2007) and was performed at Cape Castle (Ghana) for the Panafest Festival in 2007. She is published in 22 different collections including Journeys Home (US, 2009). In 2011, Akuba co-edited WAPPY’s debut anthology, The Soul of a Child with Maureen Roberts (Bogle L-Ouverture Press), and in 2015 with Eric Huntley, she co-edited, Mame Nwia-Amah: Ghana’s Undiscovered Prophetess, Divine Healer and Carer by Esther Ackah, (Way Wive Wordz, 2015).

Her recent poem, ‘Bittersweet Carnival’ (a tribute to Grenfell Tower tragedy) was shortlisted by Benjamin Zephaniah in Hillingdon’s 3rd annual Literary Festival Writing Competition and is published in Ordinary People/Exceptional Lives, 2017. She is also editor of the Arts Council-funded anthology, Wonderful World of WAPPY. 10 years of Inspirational Writing and Art by Over 100 Young Contributors (Krik Krak, 2018).

Akuba enjoys empowering young people and adults to achieve ‘against the odds’, as a creative expressions facilitator and private tutor (from school to university level) and TalentEd GCSE tutor. In 2008, initially under Positive Awareness and with Ealing funding, she established WAPPY (Writing, Acting and Publishing Project for Youngsters). An autonomous social enterprise from June 2013, which develops the literary, literacy, art and performance skills of young people (4 – 18 years), and creates opportunities for performance, exhibition and publication. It also provides author-interviewing and research experiences for its members, training and volunteering opportunities for students, job seekers and others looking for career progression.

In 2014, WAPPY in partnership with Hot Key Books and CCS Libraries (Ealing) host a youth – centred public dialogue and book-signing event for internationally acclaimed dub poet, musician and social commentator, Benjamin Zephaniah, where he discussed his new novel, Terror Kid, and other themes. Another highlight was jointly hosting the Bob Dylan Forever Young Showcase (December 2017) with Ealing Central Library, following the delivery of two (primary and secondary school age) workshops to inspire prize-winning poetry and art, against the backdrop of Dylan winning the Nobel Prize for literature in 2016.

Since 2005 Akuba has been working as a school’s facilitator and performance artist at British Museum, including undertaking ‘in house’ or outreach assignments to perform her stories and poems. In 2015, she was commissioned by Ealing council to carry out a storytelling tour of Walpole Park as part of her Unearthing Memories of Walpole Park project, in which she shared her personal memories of Walpole Park in Ealing from the late 1960s to date.

Inspired in 2013, by the discovery of her father’s Black Star Line naval legacy and its relationship to political pioneers, Kwame Nkrumah and Marcus Garvey, Akuba developed the cross-curricular, ‘Unpacking That Trunk’ package and has since been touring schools and various heritage sites for Black History season and all year around (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bNCJ6XwfIk). Akuba has also been tutoring Year 9 and Year 10 GCSE students around London through TalentEd since March 2016

Since January 2018, Akuba has been ardently campaigning to defend Ealing’s Library Service against outsourcing to private companies or community volunteers, library closures and professional library Job losses and has set up a petition through Change.Org. (http://chng.it/JrrRZQFBds).

She’s an active member of Ealing’s Labour Party and on 27th June 2019 was elected to be the Branch Officer for Black African, Caribbean and Asian voters in Ealing’s Constituency Labour Party.