Summary of the early life of “May Ayim, the poet.
Born Sylvia Andler (Also Known As May Ayim) in 1960 in Hamburg, Germany, she was the daughter of unmarried parents Ursula Andler and Emmanuel Ayim. Her father, a Ghanaian medical student, wanted to have her raised by his childless sister, but German law made illegitimate children a ward of the state and did not give rights to biological fathers. Her mother placed the girl for adoption.
After a brief time in a children’s home, Andler was adopted by the Opitz family, who named her May Opitz and raised her with their biological children. She grew up in Westphalia, where she later said that her childhood was unhappy. She considered her adoptive parents to be strict and she said they used physical violence against her. This was one of the issues she explored in her later poetry, Download book
She later said that the family threw her out of the family home at the age of 19, which the Opitz family denied. She continued to keep in touch with them. That same year she graduated from Friedenschule, the Episcopal School in Münster, and passed her Abitur. She attended teacher training college in Münster, specialising in German language and Social Studies.
Opitz attended the University of Regensburg, majoring in Psychology and Education. During this period she travelled to Israel, Kenya and Ghana. She found her biological father, Emmanuel Ayim, then a professor of Medicine, and developed a relationship with him and his family. She used May Ayim as a pen name from 1992 to reflect this connection.