Sankofa is an African word from the Akan tribe in Ghana. 

The word is derived from the words:


SAN (return), KO (go), FA (look, seek, and take)


While one of the main Sankofa symbols—also known as Bono Adinkra symbols: is a mythical bird turning its head backward to eat a precious egg.

An Akan proverb reads: “Se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi” (translated from the Akan language to mean “it is not taboo to go back and fetch what you forgot”). The power of Sankofa centers around this: to know history and your heritage is to know your current self, the world around you, and how to better both.

Pharaoh tells Moses that as you and your people leave to worship the Lord as you have requested, bless me. Although Moses had a million good reasons to not bless Pharaoh, he had a million good reasons to not get bogged down in bitterness over all the wickedness Pharaoh had carried out against the Jewish people. 

Moses did not forget the fact of 430 years of Jewish enslavement. However, he kept the Jewish people moving in a forward direction while remembering their past.   The Sankofa symbol teaches us that we should reach back and gather the best of what our past has to teach us, so that we can achieve our full potential as we move ahead! An African proverb says, “It is not taboo to go back and fetch that which you have forgotten,” meaning that you can’t know where you are going unless you know where you came from!”  This is what the Sankofa bird represents for  the Carl Spain Center.  

We shall suffer injustice in this world.  We will feel pain, suffering and misery.  What shall we do when we stand between a horrific and painful past and a beautiful future filled with greatness? We must not choose between them but we must embrace both. We must not allow our focus upon past enslavement to cut out our eyes for a vision of our future. We don’t disown the past, but we embrace it while still flying forward towards the destiny of freedom!