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Ekow Eshun (born 27 May 1968) is a Ghanaian-British writer, journalist, and broadcaster. Until November 2010 he was the artistic director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, leaving before the end of his six-month notice period. He is a contributor to BBC2's Friday night arts programme Newsnight Review, the editor-in-chief of the quarterly magazine Tank and a former editor of Arena magazine.
Eshun was born in London, the younger brother of writer Kodwo Eshun. His family are Fante from Ghana. His father, whom he calls 'Joe', was a supporter of Kwame Nkrumah, and was working at the Ghanaian High Commission when Nkrumah was overthrown in a military-police coup in February 1966. He continued to support Nkrumah, visited him in Conakry, Guinea, where he was in exile, and in September 1967 took the risk of returning to West Africa, where he was arrested in Benin and returned to Ghana, where he spent two years in prison. This period of his life is documented in June Milne ed., Kwame Nkrumah: the Conakry Years (London, 1990); see the index under 'Eshun, Ekow'. Although three years (1971–74) of his son's childhood were spent in Accra, for the most part he was brought up in London., after his father returned to London to work again at the Ghana High Commission, a position he lost when the prevailing military regime was overthrown in a coup by Jerry Rawlings. He attended Kingsbury High School in North West London. and read politics and history at the London School of Economics. During his time there he edited both Features and Arts for the student newspaper The Beaver.
He sometimes appears as a critic on Saturday Review on BBC Radio 4. He appeared in 2009 in the television advertisements for Aviva (formerly Norwich Union). He also sometimes appears as a critic on The Review Show on BBC Two, as on 30 September 2011.
In the 8 December 2010 edition of the Evening Standard Eshun erroneously claimed: "Last year, only one black student was accepted at any of Oxford’s 38 colleges to study as an undergraduate." This statistic actually referred only to Black Caribbean Students who self defined as such; the number of Black students was at least 27. The paper subsequently corrected this mistake but only in a low-key way, on its website. Later (11 April 2011) David Cameron repeated the untruth.
Eshun's memoir, Black Gold of the Sun, published in 2005, deals with a return trip to Ghana, Ghanaian history, and issues of identity and race. He currently lives in London and presented a show on More4 called The Last Word, a topical talk show discussing culture, politics and other issues of the day.
- Mark Brown (12 January 2010). "Gregor Muir to be new ICA chief". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 January 2011.
- Jessica Hodgson, "Ex-Arena editor commands Tank magazine", The Guardian. Retrieved 23 February 2010.
- Jenny Turner, "The face of British style; interview: Ekow Eshun", The Independent, 2 March 1997.
- Black Gold of the Sun by Ekow Eshun
- BBC profile.
- Ekow Eshun profile, Evening Standard.
- "The Beaver", LSE Digital Library.
- Saturday Review website.
- "Oxford University: PM incorrect on black student intake", BBC News, 11 April 2011.