“Sankofa,” an Akan (African) courtly word, means: “to return and retrieve”; or “go and get it and bring it here”; or “return to the Source” (furnisher of a first and continuous supply) so as to recover its richest lessons, its most instructive models, its best practices; and then put them in the service of the present and future. So, a main branch of the “seed” (asili–seed or source) meaning of Sankofa concerns discovery of Ancient African Values; engaging in a critical analysis of true meanings derived from minds of Ancient African Sages (and not interpretations of the unqualified who have no concept of the brilliance of Ancient African Thought); and then synthesizing the principles learned for internalization and use in daily living. But how we can use the past to inform and improve the present and lay the foundation for a more expansive future? (Karenga, Kawaida p65). The mythical African Sankofa Bird–signifying “returning to the source”—i.e. returning to Ancient African Philosophy—draws its basis for being the Sankofa Symbol from the concept of Time. Time relies significantly on the past to inform the present in preparation for going forward in the future. Hence, the Sankofa Symbol usually shows a bird whose beak is turned backward, rather than forward. Its equivalent is for all Africans and of African Diaspora to look back to Ancient African Values and Philosophies—as presented in the Ancient African Bible (i.e. Spiritual Literature)–since they are the most sacred and holiest of all Humankind people’s history. The Akan elder, Ephirim-Donkor (African Spirituality p11) elaborates by examining those Metaphysical (“Theology” or knowledge of First Causes and Principles) past happenings of Akan peoples which produced conventional spiritual speculations. He says this is necessary because an optimistic future is meaningless without both the past and present.
Asante says it is imperative that Afrocentric people reconstruct sanity in the present—by studying, recalling, and recounting the works of Reasonableness produced by Black African scholars of the past and present. The ones chosen are those who have engaged in continuous research for paradigms of thought, practice, and principles aiding understanding for improving the present + to aid correct future predictions so proper planning can begin. In other words, Sankofan or Afrocentricity argumentation considers the African past, gleans its most instructive and constructive ingredients; refines those ingredients if necessary, then utilizes the conclusions to achieve pro-African purposes in contemporary contexts (Gray, Afrocentric Thought p29). Inside Sankofa’s African Tradition pursuits are found philosophical tools readily applicable to all of today’s Black People’s problems. Hence, the purpose of returning to African Ma’at values is to gather the very best tools in existence for successfully progressing through the maze of life. What one looks for in the Sankofa concepts are ways of handling losses, lacks, and obstacles thrown in ones path; for everything needed to reclaim, revive, preserve, rebuild, and perpetuate world leadership; and for overcoming whatever Black People have been stripped of, or have lost, or forgotten, or foregone, or wrongly learned that is self-defeating.
Once gathered, Principles of African Tradition are used to help remain in the middle of the road while moving straight ahead toward achieving ones full birth gift potential. In the process, Ma’at principles (Unconditional Love in action) dictate assisting others in reaching their life’s destinations. In using the Sankofa, instead of carrying out practices as they were done in Ancient Africa, manipulate and maneuver the Spiritual Elements of Unconditional Love, Truth, Reality, and the Natural into new combinations, arrangements, and forms enabling living as ones unique Real Self in today’s society. The purpose is to help Black People shed problems and self-defeating customs; not take on new and needless problems; and get presently organized so as to proceed into a thriving future. Patterned Tools can be modified to meet whatever is brought in with new changes. Examples include reconnecting with good people, honoring Successful Isolated Individualists/Scholars, and doing “ME/WE” help so each is on the path to: “Be Right,” “Do Right,” “Make Things Right,” and “Defend the Right.” This necessitates viewing ones “ME/WE” duties in life as an intensification of the work the God Spirit does in Nature, but on a tiny scale. Two things are always to be cared about are: “never to forget where we came from and always praise the bridges that carried us over” (Fannie Lou Hamer).
Joseph A. Bailey II, MD, FACS
To create, maintain, and enhance HARMONY