Sankofa is a word in the Twi language of Ghana that translates as "Go back and get it" (san - to return; ko - to go; fa - to fetch, to seek and take) and also refers to the Asante Adinkra symbol represented either by a bird with its head turned backwards taking an egg off its back, or as a stylised heart shape. Sankofa is often associated with the proverb, “Se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi," which translates as: "It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten."
The sankofa symbol appears frequently in traditional Akan art, and has also been adopted as an important symbol in an African-American and African Diaspora context to represent the need to reflect on the past to build a successful future. It is one of the most widely dispersed adinkra symbols, appearing in modern jewellery, tattoos, and clothing.
Sankofa is a 1993 Burkinabé drama film directed by Haile Gerima centered on the Atlantic slave trade. The storyline features Oyafunmike Ogunlano, Kofi Ghanaba, Mutabaruka, Alexandra Duah and Afemo Omilami. The word Sankofa derives its meaning from the Ghanaian Akan language which means to "go back, look for, and gain wisdom, power and hope," according to Dr. Anna Julia Cooper. The word Sankofa stresses the importance of one not drifting too far away from one’s past in order to progress in the future. In the film, Sankofa is depicted by a bird and the chants and drumming of a Divine Drummer. Gerima’s film showed the importance of not having people of African descent drift far away from their African roots. Gerima used the journey of the character Mona to show how the African perception of identity included recognizing one’s roots and "returning to one’s source" (Gerima).
Sankofa is an Adinkra concept of "roots", symbolized by a bird with its head turned backwards
Sankofa may also refer to:
- Sankofa (film), 1993
- Sankofa Television, a subsidiary of African Communications Foundation, based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands
- "Sankofa", a song from the album Blue Light 'til Dawn by Cassandra Wilson
- Sankofa (Oogenus), an oogenus of bird-like eggs of a dinosaur species
- Mika'il Sankofa, U.S. sabre fencer and coach
- Norman Sankofa, a fictional character on the British television soap opera Hollyoaks
- Osei Sankofa, an English footballer
- Shaka Sankofa, a Texas death-row inmate sentenced in 1981
- Theo Sankofa, a fictional character on the long British television soap opera Hollyoaks