Sankofa, Concept

Sankofa is an Akan (West African) word made up of three parts: san (“return”), ko (“go back”), and fa (“fetch/retrieve”). It is a symbol and principle that serves to remind us that the past is a “resource” and not merely a “reference.” It is ripe with meaning for Africans. One interpretation, among several, is “Go back to the past and recover it.” Yet another one is “Return to the source.” Similarly, sankofa may be interpreted as an injunction to “learn from the past” and finally as an order to “never forget the past and path you made when moving ahead.”

The typical visual form is a bird standing or walking forward while reaching back with its head into its feathers. The bird is said to be ...

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