Have you ever heard of the concept of Sankofa?
It’s very interesting and I think it ties in perfectly illustrates the point of why the past is important to your future.
In the Twi language of Ghana, the word Sankofa translates to “Go back and get it” with San meaning to return; ko meaning to go; fa means to fetch, to seek and take.
There is a visual representation of this in the Asante Adinkra symbol of a Sankofa Bird, which has its head turned backward while facing forward carrying a precious egg in its beak.
The concept of Sankofa reminds us that it is ok to go back into the past, seek the knowledge of history we may have forgotten and bring the lessons learned with us into our future. Without this step in our development, we are prone to fall into the same traps, trusting the same people and institutions that wronged us before or miss the opportunities we had gathered over thousands of years.
Understanding our history is more critical today than ever. The recorded history of the world has shown repeatedly they are trying to write us out of the history books, out of the achievements of existence and erase our contributions to humankind.
How are our children going to grow up, compete and perform on the world stage if they don’t have a deep seeded pride in their ancestors and their accomplishments? Children and adults who understand they come from a long, storied history are more prone to be productive members of the global society.
We like to say, “Everyone deserves to be proud of their ancestors. Why not the Black community?”
Our people must understand our history did not start at slavery. We have a long history that started tens of thousands of years ago. We must tap into it all and see ourselves as a greater people than the descendants of slaves.
If all we see is slavery when we look back, modern day successes, civil rights legislation and crumbs from Massa’s table might look like real achievement!
Malcolm X said, “If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, there’s no progress. If you pull it all the way out that’s not progress. Progress is healing the wound that the blow made. And they haven’t even pulled the knife out much less heal the wound.”
Without knowing our full history, we will see the stumbles forward we have made over the 50 or so years as real progress when they are merely baby steps towards what we deserve for ourselves and our future.
We have an amazing history that must be uncovered. It will instill truth, pride, and admiration for the generations before us, while giving us the energy and juice to carry the torch a little bit further for the next generation.
Stick with Urban Intellectuals, not only for the rest of this month but for years to come as we continue to peel back the layers of our historical greatness, along with our ever-growing community and work to inspire those in the present to give more.
Together we will ignite the global Black community on fire!
PUBLIC NOTE: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the Urban Intellectuals, affiliates or partners.