Cornelia Goethe Centrum

May Ayim

May Ayim (3 May 1960 in Hamburg – 9 August 1996 in Berlin) is the pen name of May Opitz (born Sylvia Andler); she was an Afro-German poet, educator, and activist. The child of a German student and Ghanaian medical student, she was adopted by a white German family when young. After reconnecting with her father and his family in Ghana, in 1992 she took his surname for a pen name.

Opitz wrote a thesis at the University of Regensburg, „Afro-Deutsche: Ihre Kultur- und Sozialgeschichte aus dem Hintergrund gesellschaftlicher Veränderungen“ (Afro-Germans: Their Cultural and Social History on the Background of Social Change), which was the first scholarly study of Afro-German history. Combined with contemporary materials, it was published as the book Farbe Bekennen: Afro-deutsche Frauen auf den Spuren ihrer Geschichte (1986). This was translated and published in English as Showing Our Colors: Afro-German Women Speak Out (1986). It included accounts by many women of Afro-German descent. Ayim worked as an activist to unite Afro-Germans and combat racism in German society. She co-founded Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland (Initiative of Black People in Germany) to that purpose in the late 1980s.