For Anna Nyakana, an immigrant to the U.S. from Germany who was born to a Ugandan father and a German-Moldavian mother, overcoming the language barrier was a significant problem in her formative years. In her pursuit to overcome this challenge, Anna ventured into reading; however, she was constantly discouraged because she could not find books with characters that looked like her on the cover. In her young mind, her interpretation of this was that her culture was not important enough to be represented. And as a student in a low-resource school, she was denied many privileges that the rich and middle class were afforded.
Anna Nyakana is now an award-winning, best-selling children’s author, speaker, and entrepreneur. She is the owner of Niyah Zuri Books and Niyah Zuri Studios. Anna pursued her writing and musical passions at the tender age of 6 and spent her teenage years honing her songwriting and live performance skills until she released her debut album in 2007. She proceeded to attain her bachelor’s degree in business in 2011, and she currently resides in Connecticut with her children.
Anna Nyakana brings diversity to the classroom through her Niyah Zuri Movement, by creating unification through world harmony and empowering both children and adults. Anna noted that every culture should be glorified for their contributions to the present. “It’s about time that these legacies from the past are no longer denied but rather spotlighted and represented in the books and digital media we read and see each day. Moreover, everyone should be empowered to live the Niyah Zuri way.” The Niyah Zuri way, according to Anna, means “to be purposeful.” “We are all entitled to fulfill our highest potential, and it’s about time we realize our true worth to contribute to a profound society.”
Anna’s sojourn into writing began immediately after her University education and through her first literary work, “The Student Survival Guide to Online College.” She guided thousands of students during their higher education journey through an online platform, using this quick guide. Still, She yearned to help a diﬀerent demographic close to her heart: children. Through her personal experiences, Anna discovered an overwhelming need for multicultural children’s books where heroines could slay the ﬁercest of dragons versus ﬁlling the typical princess in distress role.
Out of this desire, Anna created the Niyah Zuri series, and she spent the next few years writing and published her most remarkable literary work, “Niyah Zuri and The Pharaoh’s Throne,” a time-bending exploration of ancient lands lead by the determined Niyah Zuri and her best friends, Miguel and Hugo Gonzales.
Anna doesn’t see herself competing with anyone; instead, she believes personal goals and aspirations transcend competition of any kind. “I didn’t focus on competition, for we should all be striving to reach our own personal summits. For that reason, I stand out on my own, for I am relentless in ensuring that children of color and all children understand the rich history to build an empathetic and loving society.”
During her interview on SiriusXM;s “The Karen Hunter Show”, Anna stressed the importance of diversity in the classroom, which is the core of her mission and the reason behind the Niyah Zuri series. At the moment, Anna is working with school administrators across the country to implement the Niyah Zuri series into every school curriculum in every district. In addition to further spreading the Niyah Zuri message, Anna recently released the sequel in the series, “Niyah Zuri and The Mayan Eclipse.”
In recognition of her works and efforts, Anna is a recipient of several awards and accolades, including Connecticut Magazine’s 2021 “40 Under 40” List and February 2021 magazine cover, the “2020 100 Women of Color Award” as well as Valedictorian of the 2020 Class, and proclamations from both the L.T., Governor of Connecticut and the Connecticut House of Representatives.Anna’s books are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, major bookstores and retailers, and her website.