Thursday, September 6, 2012

Reaching Back in order to Move Forward

Williams College step dance team. Sankofa is an Akan (majority tribe in Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire) word. It is often symbolized by the Akan bird with its head turned backwards taking an egg off its back and associated with the proverb “take from the past what is good and bring it into the present”.

“When the remains of hundreds of colonial-era Africans were uncovered during a building excavation in Lower Manhattan in 1991, one coffin in particular stood out. Nailed into its wooden lid were iron tacks, 51 of which formed an enigmatic, heart-shaped design. The pattern was soon identified as the sankofa — a symbol printed on funereal garments in West Africa — and it captured the imagination of scholars, preservationists and designers. Ultimately, it was embraced by many African-Americans as a remarkable example of the survival of African customs in the face of violent subjugation in early America.” – NYTimes, 1/26/10

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