Sankofa: Learn from The Past

Sankofa (image by Damiyr Saleem Studios)

(image by Damiyr Saleem Studios)

“Sankofa,” a word in the Akan language of Ghana, means “reach back and get it” (san – to return; ko – to go; fa – to fetch, to seek and take) and is associated with the proverb, “It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten.” Its message, particularly important to African Americans and other peoples of the African Diaspora, is for us to go back and reclaim what is good from past. Then, understanding why and how we came to be who we are today, we can move forward and create successful futures for ourselves, for our children, and for our children’s children. The Adinkra symbol of a bird with its head turned backward to take an egg off its back represents Sankofa.

In Houston, Texas, at the 2014 reunion of the African American descendants of President James Madison, we lit candles to honor the memory of our enslaved ancestors. Our cousin Dr. Ed Madison videotaped the ceremony.

Posted in Ancestry.


  1. How poignant! Beautifully and professionally done. Thank you so much for sharing this important segment of your family’s history, and by inference, a history of an infinite number of African Americans.


  2. i would like to use an image of the sank off bird on my novel. Do you have a free image or one for which I can purchase a royalty free license? Sarah Ducksworth

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