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Meet Anna Nyakana of Niyah Zuri & The Pharaoh’s Throne in Connecticut

Today we’d like to introduce you to Anna Nyakana.

Anna Nyakana was born in Berlin, Germany in 1986 to a Ugandan father and German-Moldavian mother. Her family immigrated to the United States in the early ’90s, settling in Stamford, Connecticut. Anna pursued her writing and musical passions beginning at the age of six and spent her teenage years honing her skills of songwriting and live performance until releasing her self-titled album in 2007. Anna Nyakana proceeded to attain her Bachelor’s degree in Business in 2011 and soon after extended her writing talents into her first literary work, “The Student Survival Guide to Online College.” She was able to guide thousands of students during their journey of attaining higher education through an online platform through this quick guide but yearned to help a different demographic close to her heart: children. Through her own personal experiences, Anna discovered there was 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, the Niyah Zuri series was born and Anna took the next few years to write and publish her greatest literary work. “Niyah Zuri & The Pharaoh’s Throne” hails as a time-bending exploration of ancient lands lead by the headstrong Niyah Zuri and her best friends Miguel and Hugo Gonzales. This chapter book is geared towards upper elementary through lower middle school readers and comes equipped with a full glossary and free online resources for parents and teachers to access.

Anna has been featured on many media outlets including SiriusXM, Entercom Radio, NBC, ABC, FOX 61, and News 12 Connecticut. During her interview on SiriusXM’s “The Karen Hunter Show,” Anna stressed the importance of diversity in the classroom and the purpose of the Niyah Zuri series, “It is critical children see a reflection of themselves in the books that they read. My mission is to inspire them, one adventure at a time.” Working directly with school administrators in her state, she has implemented the Niyah Zuri series into the curriculum of several school districts and is working tirelessly to spread the Niyah Zuri message of diversity, heroinism, and history across the country through in-school author visits and virtual lessons. “Niyah Zuri & The Pharaoh’s Throne” is available on annanyakana.com, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
When I first completed my manuscript, I gave myself one year to get it picked up by a major publisher. I received several rejection letters and eventually an interested publisher asked that I change the most fundamental element of my book; my main character. I was open to collaborating on all suggestions but could not allow Niyah Zuri to be erased; she is a fearless, headstrong, and intelligent black heroine that is destined to change the lives of all young readers. So, I overcame my own fear of failure, redefined my definition of success, and released my book independently. I have sold over 10,000 copies to date.

Please tell us about “Niyah Zuri & The Pharaoh’s Throne.”
“Niyah Zuri & the Pharaoh’s Throne” follows self-assured heroine Niyah Zuri as she and her best friends, Miguel and Hugo Gonzales, travel through time with the use of a mystical map. Readers are taken on an adventure with every turn of the page as the trio forge their friendship through exploration.

The series begins its epic tale when Niyah & the Gonzales twins discover an enchanted map in their clubhouse and are accidentally teleported to the Triassic period. After evading carnivorous dinosaurs, the time-jumping continues as they’re sent back to Ancient Egypt in order to help a young Prince Tut overcome his fear of rule. The group race against time to complete their mission, returning to their time period in haste as the Pharaoh’s sudden death has the royal guards suspicious of Tut’s foreign visitors.

“Niyah Zuri & The Pharaoh’s Throne” comes equipped with a full glossary that exposes children to a broad vocabulary that will both challenge and educate them!

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
I spent a significant amount of time volunteering throughout my childhood, whether it was building schools overseas, raising funds for community organizations, or being a mentor for at-risk youth. When I was 15, I traveled to Kenya to carry out health clinics in the slums of Nairobi. I came in contact with hundreds of individuals, the majority of them being my own age or younger, who refused to allow their disease to rob them of happiness. Their joy of life was seen in their bodies as they dance-battled, heard in their voices as they laughed and sang along with the radio, and undeniable in their beaming smiles as they greeted me “Good Morning.” My new friends taught me to love and live fully each day, regardless of circumstance. It was a profound lesson that I still carry with me to this day and have instilled in my sons.

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