Eshun, Ekow 1968–
Eshun, Ekow 1968–
PERSONAL: Born May 27, 1968, in London, England. Education: London School of Economics, B.Sc. Hobbies and other interests: Contemporary art, fashion design.
ADDRESSES: Home—London, England. Office—Institute of Contemporary Arts, The Mall, London SW1Y 5AH, England.
CAREER: Kiss FM radio, London, England, broadcaster, 1987–88; freelance journalist, 1990–93; assistant editor for The Face, 1993–96; Arena (magazine), former editor, beginning c. 1996; Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, England, council member, 1999–2003, artistic director, 2005–; Bug Cultural Consultancy, London, England, director, 2000–04; has also worked as editorial director of Tank magazine, and as editor of Mined and Hot Air. Board member of London Arts Board, 1999–, and Tate Members, London, 2003–; governor of University of Arts, London, 2001–.
AWARDS, HONORS: Christian Aid Lifestyle Award (with Jon Snow), One World Media Awards, 2000, for work on documentary Living on the Line.
Black Gold of the Sun: Searching for Home in England and Africa, illustrated by Chris Ofili, Hamish Hamilton (New York, NY), 2005.
Contributor to periodicals, including the London Observer, Guardian, Sunday Times, New Statesman, and Sleaze, as well as to BBC Radio.
SIDELIGHTS: In 2002 London-born journalist Ekow Eshun traveled to his family's home in Ghana in an attempt to trace his roots and to study the issues of race and identity in both that country and his own. The resulting memoir, Black Gold of the Sun: Searching for Home in England and Africa, traces his journey from Accra to Cape Coast, and from the Ashanti region to northern Ghana. Eshun compares his own route to those taken by other notable Africans, as well as his own parents and grandparents and, going back even farther, to the journeys of slaves. Not only does the author examine a wide range of history and culture, but he also weaves his findings with his own personal history and experiences and his reactions to what he learned on his trip. His discoveries were not all pleasant, or even anticipated. At one point, Eshun learned one of his ancestors was a slave trader. In an article for Time International, he told Daneet Steffens: "I haven't really come to terms with it. It's a very salient daily reminder of the fact that there's no such thing as black and white, that everything we do is a kind of mixing up. Everything we do is about contradictions, really." Margaret Busby, in a review for the New Statesman, observed that "whorls of memories of family life—particularly his interaction with his older brother Kodwo—are imaginatively layered with vivid observation, convincing speculation, recherche nuggets of information."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Eshun, Ekow, Black Gold of the Sun: Searching for Home in England and Africa, Hamish Hamilton (New York, NY), 2005.
African Business, October, 2005, review of Black Gold of the Sun, p. 64.
Art in America, June-July, 2005, "Institute of Contemporary Arts," p. 206.
Design Week, March 17, 2005, "ICA Seeks to Appoint MD," p. 3.
Marketing Week, March 29, 2001, "Ekow Eshun," p. 13.
New Statesman, January 1, 2005, "No Place Like Home: When Ekow Eshun Visited Ghana in Search of His Roots, He Was Troubled by What He Dug Up," p. 80; May 30, 2005, Margaret Busby, "Homing Instinct," review of Black Gold of the Sun, p. 55.
Time International, June 27, 2005, Daneet Steffens, "A Secret History: In a Moving Memoir, British Journalist Ekow Eshun Returns to Ghana and Discovers Some Painful Truths," p. 74.
BBC News Web site, http://news.bbc.co.uk/ (March 4, 2006), brief author biography.
Black in Britain, http://www.blackinbritain.co.uk/ (March 4, 2006), brief author biography.
Contemporary African Database, http://people.africadatabase.org/ (March 4, 2006), information about author.
ICA.org, http://www.ica.org.uk/ (March 4, 2006), article about author.