Sankofa: Go Back and Fetch It

AdinkraSankofaNot too many years ago, when I was teaching Adinkra symbolism to children in the Arkansas Delta, there was a symbol that caught my attention with its graceful design, and caught my heart with its meaning. The symbol was “Sankofa”, a stylized heart with a curvy inside and base. It became my mantra and my life symbol.

The word “Sankofa” in the Adinkra language means “Go back and fetch it”. It emphasizes the necessity of learning from the past before one can move forward.

“Sankofa” means that we must go back and reclaim our past. Take ownership of it. Review what took place and try to come to terms with our role in the past- whether as victim or oppressor. Only then can we understand why and how we came to be who we are today.

Sankofa is particularly relevant to the emotional work that must be carried out by those like myself, who have written a memoir with less than pretty details.

There’s much to be scrutinized and evaluated- and then, either tossed or taken. When you keep Sankofa in mind, hopefully, like me, you can find enough positive growth in the hardships to enable forgiveness for the harms done to you.

Your past is not my past and my past is not yours- but our history does not have to be similar to be shared. We need only to be able to have empathy for another’s experiences, and realize that the past will always influence our future.

Go back and look, seek, and take. Take away the Truth and carry it to the Present. Learn, so that you don’t make the same mistakes. Learn, so that you can duplicate the positives. Love and prosper.


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