NANA AKUA: Harry ‘should be charged with treason’ says MailOnline’s new coumnist
How many times, I wonder, have Nana Akua’s friends and colleagues pleaded with her to just get off the fence for once and say what’s on her mind? How often have they cried: ‘Come on Nana, just spit it out, will you – say what you really think!’
My guess would be absolutely never.
Because whether the subject is Gary Lineker (‘a national disgrace – totally deluded; him and his woke warriors – we’ve got history!’), Harry and Meghan, (‘very, very stupid’), Black Lives Matter (she’s not a fan), wokery or even dating, it is hard to imagine a more confident, outspoken and recklessly unfiltered voice.
In fact, an hour with Nana, a TV presenter whose new column on MailOnline starts tomorrow, is a bit like being in a washing machine on a hot, fast spin; tumbling through her enthusiasm for the death penalty (‘I’d press the button in a heartbeat’), to gender (‘It’s very simple – a man has a penis and a woman has a vagina’), to European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen’s recent love-in with Rishi Sunak as they cemented the Windsor Framework Brexit agreement (‘The way they were looking at each other was slightly creepy’).
Nana, a TV presenter on GB News and former BBC regular, is a confident, outspoken and recklessly unfiltered voice
MailOnline’s new columnist says that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle ‘played with racism’
But we start relatively gently with Harry and Meghan, because nothing makes the 51-year-old glow and gleam quite like railing against the Sussexes.
‘If you move out of the country and slag us all off, what do you expect? They’re totally done for. They’ve sold everything – there’s nothing left. They’re finished. What have they got left to sell – who’s going to buy it?’
But Nana’s just limbering up.
‘They played with racism! I don’t think Meghan even acknowledged that she was black, really, until she came to the UK. But because the British people acknowledged it and celebrated it, she realised how powerful it was. Then, when she wasn’t getting what she wanted, she used that narrative.’
Nana, whose Ghanaian parents moved to Britain in the 1960s, also thinks the Sussexes should be stripped of their titles and charged with treason. And this is just her starter for ten.
Nana may not be as well known as Lineker or Jeremy Clarkson, but she’s been popping up on TV and radio for years with her deep husky voice, tight, bright, ultra-glamorous dresses, splendid wigs and total lack of filter.
She has her own weekend shows on GB News – ‘Revoke the woke’ is the strapline – and it is proving very popular with some viewers.
‘It’s my duty to put forward what a lot of people are afraid to say,’ she says. ‘An absolute duty. I couldn’t just bystand and watch this madness carry on.’
Which means that while the rest of us chew, choke and chomp a bit over all the new gender pronouns, Nana simply spits them out.
‘Who’s making them up? There are 76 now! Seventy-six! We’ve got herself, theirself, virself, eughself . . . Who agreed to all this?
The GB News presenter says the BBC, where she used to work, has ‘lost control’ by allowing ‘spoiled’ presenters like Gary Lineker to get their way
‘Somebody’s having a laugh at us. It’s a joke. It’s just rubbish, rubbish, rubbish! Totally delusional, and it’s got to stop. The fact is that there are two genders – male and female. I’ll say it again, a man has a penis, and a woman has a vagina. You can change the anatomy, but they are biological things.’
If you want to avoid another tirade, it’s perhaps best not to get Nana on to the subject of gender-fluid loos (‘Oh my God!’). Or the debate about whether God should be non-binary. ‘Oh my God! You can’t dictate what someone else’s God is. For God’s sake!’
And particularly not the BBC’s Lineker fiasco.
‘The BBC has lost control – allowing all those spoilt presenters to run roughshod. How can they discipline anyone? It’s the end of the licence fee, because who’s going to pay for a politicised, state-owned broadcaster?’
So we turn to books. And, specifically, the editing of Roald Dahl’s works to suit 21st-century sensibilities.
‘That’s just ridiculous! And again, why? If you want to write another book, then write another book. It’s like the editing of James Bond books. I loved James Bond. Everyone did. I wanted to be a Bond Girl, I loved Roger Moore and I enjoyed his manliness – if I may say so. They were just fun films.’
But perhaps Nana’s most surprising views relate to issues about race.
So she loathes Premier League footballers’ anti-racism stance of taking the knee before matches – ‘it’s part of Black Lives Matter, which is a Marxist pressure group’. And she has no truck with Black History Month, either.
‘It’s about time people realised that black people are not just one homogenous group who all think the same thing,’ she says. ‘The mindset of what a black person thinks is being dictated by a load of white people, who then try to protect them. I have a lot of white friends being offended on my behalf.’
She is adamant that the standard narrative – ‘that black people feel persecuted; that they have such a bad time because everything is stacked against them’ – is deeply flawed.
‘That wasn’t how I was bought up. My dad said to me, ‘Nana, there’s no such word as ‘can’t’. It’s ‘won’t’. Yes, there’s a glass ceiling sometimes, but it’s made of glass, so just break it’. He was a black man. He worked his way up.’
Quite a long way, in fact, to become head of credit risk at NatWest Markets, the bank’s investment arm, a job on Wall Street and sending his daughter to a Catholic boarding school in England.
Nana sees it as her ‘duty’ to put forward what a lot of people are afraid to say and says she can’t stand by and watch ‘madness’ unfold
Nana says: ‘I tell the black kids, ‘Stop giving yourselves these shackles and saying, ‘Woe is me cos I’m black’.
‘Most of the things that I’ve done have nothing to do with the colour of my skin, and some of the opportunities have been because of it.’
Nana was born in Newcastle in 1971 and, while her parents were both working, was farmed out in a local fostering scheme to a white family.
‘They were really sweet. Of all the people who helped me to get where I am, the majority have been white.’
Always ambitious, she knew what she wanted to do from the age of five. ‘I’d look at my reflection in the TV before Sesame Street came on and practise being a TV presenter.’
She worked her way in through radio – hospital radio, Kiss, Capital and then into television, presenting for Bid-Up TV and, later, Look East, Holiday and working as a panellist on Good Morning Britain, Panorama and the Jeremy Vine Show.
Between jobs she ran her own fitness company, LadyXsize, with more than 1,000 clients, and still works out at least four times a week.
She is ruthlessly organised, but life must be quite a juggle – she is a single mum to two children, daughter Africa, 14, son, Ivory, five, by two different dads who step in at weekends when she’s working on her Saturday and Sunday TV shows.
‘It was obviously a total disaster going out with both of them!’ she rolls her eyes. ‘But I get on with them because of my children.’
Ivory was conceived naturally and born three months early when Nana was 46. It was only due to her extraordinary fitness that she survived pre-eclampsia, liver failure, kidney failure and a flurry of blood transfusions.
Ivory has what she describes as ‘a little bit of cerebral palsy’, which means she likes to be close to his school during the week in case she’s needed, when she’ll turn up ‘in disguise’ in a flowery hat and her own natural Pocahontas-style plaits.
Back in her BBC years, although she was less recognisable in public, Nana felt it trickier to be herself.
‘It was all, ‘You can’t say that, you can’t do that’. I had so much to say, but I had to keep my mouth shut.’
She didn’t always manage it and lost two shows after saying a few things her BBC bosses didn’t like – a religious programme and one on mental health.
‘There’s clearly one rule for Lineker and one for the rest of us who were disciplined for doing a lot less. I am one of those people,’ she says. ‘The BBC may think it’s over, but it’s not – there’ll be a backlash.’
She also worked on the Jeremy Vine show – ‘Jeremy’s a beautiful man, a wonderful man’ – and caused quite a stir when she expressed her views on the death penalty.
‘I said paedophiles should be executed. And murderers – when you know they’ve done it. Electric chair, lethal injection. I’m not fussed how, so long as they’re dead. I don’t want to pay for them to be locked up in prisons! What’s the point?’ she says. ‘Anyway, the BBC didn’t like that at all.’
It probably didn’t much like her more recent comments about immigrants either – again made on Vine’s show, but while she was working for GB news – specifically that immigrants should not expect to be rescued if their boats capsize and that Border Force staff should not be prosecuted if they do not rescue them.
‘I don’t want to get back into all that, but I stick by what I said, that people should not get on a small boat. I didn’t want them to get on boats and risk their lives, that there should be safe routes. But things are always taken out of context.’
On that occasion, mirroring his actions last week, Lineker waded in and branded her ‘vile’ on Twitter, letting loose his eight-million-plus Twitter followers.
‘He never apologised. Neither did the BBC, however much I complained about him, because the abuse was terrible.
‘There was a massive pile-on.’
Which even for Nana, wearily used to online abuse, was a shock.
‘Of course I get all the standard abuse — I’m a witch, I’m wicked. I’m spreading hate,’ she says. ‘But I’m hard for haters. I’m tricky. Because I’m black. I’m that minority they’re supposed to be protecting. So they’re like, ‘Uh-oh, there’s a black one saying it, so we can’t use the race card’.’
There is so much in today’s world to exercise a vociferous anti-woke crusader. Does she ever get tired of it? Ever think, ‘I just can’t be bothered to go into battle today?’
‘No, it’s fun!’ she says. ‘That’s where the energy is. I’m not an angry person. I often see the funny side of things – I see it from a plain, undressed-up, childlike way – sort of, ‘What are you saying, that’s madness!’
Even so, it must be tiring spinning so many plates. Single mum, TV presenter with two weekend shows and scripts that she writes herself, extremely gobby mouthpiece, fitness expert.
Would she like to share it all with someone – if they dared?
‘Maybe. Maybe . . . There’s always an opportunity for someone who’s respectful and really nice. Of course I’d be up for that,’ she says. Then her amazing eyes start flashing. ‘But I’m not taking any baloney. So as soon as someone starts playing any sort of game, I’ve got exactly two minutes for that. When I meet someone, I’m interested to find out who they are. So if they think I’m just going to jump into bed with them, then they’re on crack, because it’s just not going to happen.’
And with that, we’re done, and she bounds upstairs to choose a very big wig and a very tight dress for the photoshoot.
With her brash, bold manner, naked ambition and furiously anti-woke stance, Nana Akua is not everyone’s cup of tea.
Yes, some people stop her in the street to thank her for speaking out. But many reel at her comments about the death penalty, and a worrying number post abusive messages aimed at her on social media.
But whatever your stance, one thing seems certain – we’re going to be hearing a lot more from Nana, and not one word of it will be filtered, edited or careful.