On Thursday, August 14,2003, while the Northeast and Midwest regions of the United States coped with the biggest blackout in the nations history, Nya Joy Payton, the young, vivacious and tirelessly inventive Creative Editor of The AFRican, passed on to join her ancestors following a brief hospitalization for breathing problems.
As Creative Editor, Nya was the conceptual heart of many of the magazines most beloved articles and ancillary projects. From her inspired examination of relationships between Africans and African-Americans to her creation and orchestration of the magazines AFRo-Funk Friday events, Nya's life comprised the culture and creed that informed, entertained, validated, and celebrated our culture, our voices, our vision.
Though much of her professional life revolved around the written word, there was no question to those who knew her that Nya's first love was the stage and celluloid. Born in Philadelphia on May 29, 1977, Nya moved to New York City to attend New York University's Gallatin School of Film Studies. While there, she took a position as a children's drama instructor at the Paul Robeson Theater.
She also began to work with independent filmmakers and production companies, while writing her own scripts with the hope of seeing them produced as feature films. Between 1999 and 2000, she worked as an art director on two short films, Amorphous and Friend of a Lifetime, both produced by Mahaghani Films. She also worked as a producer and art director on the short film Prescription for Time the following year. It was during this time that Bolade Sonubi, a co-founder of the magazine, invited her to a meeting with like-minded souls who wanted to launch a magazine called The AFRican.
"She exuded lots of energy and was full of ideas from the start," said Akpan Oton, publisher of the magazine. "She loved the whole idea of working on this publication." Nya leapt in with her characteristic enthusiasm, charming the other staff members with her fluorescent personality and ever-present smile. Before long, she had moved from assisting on photo shoots to coordinating the creative content of Essentials, the fashion and style section of the magazine.
Her irrepressible creativity did not stop there. When the magazine's staff huddled to find new fund-raising ideas that would enable the magazine to keep publishing, it was Nya who devised and initiated AFRo-Funk Fridays, a monthly party that succeeded in raising the magazines profile among lovers of African diaspora music and culture.
Recently, Nya expanded her work to collaborations with New York radio station WLIBs Kola Nut and the television show African Life. "It seems as if I had known her forever," said Vigil Chime, the show's producer. "I met her at one of the AFRo-Funk functions, and she agreed to host a segment on the show. She was one of those people I met and immediately clicked with. She was extremely personable--I honestly felt as if I had met a sister."
Chimes recollection of Nya's personality sums up the feelings of the people who knew her, either intimately or in passing. "She absolutely touched and inspired me. Somehow, its not surprising that she's not with us, because people that special do not stay here too long."
Nya Joy Payton is survived by her mother, Jeannette Payton.
We've received many many messages of condolence. They are well appreciated.
What happened? This is shocking news.Les
May she rest in Perfect Peace. Dr. Michael Buadoo
I am deeply saddened to hear of your loss. My, My so young. Was she ill? Douglas Rosenthal
So sorry to hear about your loss. I pray for comfort and healing at this time for her family and her friends. Folake Grange.
My sympathies to her mom and colleagues. May the Lord help you all through this time of grief. N.
Please accept my deepest sympathy. The work you do is important and needed. Stay strong and carry on.Brian Hardgroove Fine Arts Militia
:-( My condolences.
My condolences for the loss of what was truly a young and inspiring soul. Please send my regards and god-grace to Nya's family at this difficult time.Anna Marie Everwell, 25Manchester, UK.
Our thoughts are with you. abby and everyone at ipa.
Hey Now Africanmag, Hope and Pray everything will be all right, FATS GALLON is sorry to hear the bad news, Well I will PRAY for ya tonight. BLESS all the FAMILY, LOVE YA, FUNK DRUMMER, FATS GALLON, LOVE
so sorry to hear this. I think I spoke to Nya b/c she had wanted me to be published in your magazine. my prayers are with her mom, family and you all all to give the strength to calm your pain due to her transition...Keep the memories of her alive and in time the heart will become lighter...
in peace n luv...
I am sorry to hear this.lubangi
I am saddened to hear about the loss of sister, Nya Joy Payton, who transitioned at the tender age of 26. Please extend my condolence to her mother, other family members and staff of The AFRican for such irreparable loss. We will keep the mother, family and staff in our prayers as they mourn the home-going of one of the great dauthers of the Continent. Sam Togba Slewion Managing Editor The Heritage newspaper
My deepest sympathy......Chyna DollFreelance Journalist, Playwright, Director, Poetess
On behalf of Radio TamTam, I send you our sincere condoleances. Modibo Diagne Program Director
Peace Brethern and Sistren,I am deeply sorry for your loss. May you draw strength from one another and continue the struggle in her name.Stacey
Our condolences from WTJU...sorry for your loss and know how hard this is to deal with. Take Care, chuck taylor
Bros: My condolences. May the departed soul in peace reat. Keep us posted. Take heart. MOE
I, and my sistren in poetry are deeply saddened to her of the passing of Nya Joy. Her mother, Jeanette, participated in a poetry workshop conducted by myself & Pat McLean. Through Jeannette, we had the opportunity to meet Nya about two years ago when she came to a poetry venue that we were hosting in Philadelphia, and that is how we were introduced to The African Magazine. In the meantime, please know that many prayers are with you, as we know that you, too, were her family. Debra Powell
I am so sorry; @ such a young age, what did she die of? Karin K. Clarke
I am sorry for your loss. I can sense the pain of it all. I have lost children but never one so young and accomplished. To the mother, 'My heart holds sorry for the lost of your child.'- a Grandfather
I am sorry to hear this. May her soul rest in perfect peace. Laolu
And may G-ds light bring peace to you her family as she travels to that place of eternal rest. With respect Ronny Drayton
Would you be so good as to extend our deepest sympathy to her mother, Jeanette, from our entire Staff. Caribbean Business Community
I am sorry to hear the sad news and we at The Black Star News send our condolences to her family and her colleagues at The AFRican.Milton Allimadi, The Black Star News
So sorry to hear of the loss. May God Bless her; her family and her African Magazine family!Tsidii Le LokaCreative Visionary
I am sorry to hear about the lost of the editor-Nya Payton and my sincere regards to her mother Madam Jeanette at this trying time. There are no words to say, when something happens like this to lose a loved one but remain strong and Godspeed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I will say prayers for the family!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Sincerely, Leona Wells
I am sorry on your lost. Please let me if there is anything Hairradio.com can do in your time of need. Thank you, Kerry Hines
My deepest condolescences to everyone at the magazine and to Nya's family and friends. Such a young life. Blessings to you and yours. Sista Irie
Peace to sister Payton's family and to The AFRican magazine family as you search for answers in this very difficult time. Our prayers are with you. gdd Ginger DeeWCLK Atlanta
Please extend sympathies to Nya's mother and family.I never had the opportunity to meet Nya, but I did speak with her twice, briefly-It is always a shock to lose someone at such a young age. I do hope her mom finds comfort that she was surrounded by very positive people at the AFRican, who valued her various contributions. I appreciate your taking time out to inform me of her death. My Best wishes of strength and comfort to all. With Kind regards, Ayo Babalola
It's always shocking and sad to hear when a young life departs from us. My condolences to the entire family, especially her mother. May her rest in peace under God's care.Blessings;Maria C. MercadoPresidentM & M Advertising and Productions
Dear Sisters and Brothers,I am very saddened to hear of the passing of Nya Joy. Death comes to us all, but when one so young and so active in her community is visited the greif is all the more difficult to bear. My deepest sympathies reach out to her family and friends. Her contributions to this world will be sorely missed, her contributions in the next greatly anticipated.With Empathy and Sympathy,JewellCeltic HourKBOO Radio20 SE 8thPortland, Oregon 97214