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Sankofa one hundred percent

March 23, 2014

by Leontyne Smith, Poor News Network

Last month’s Community Newsroom at POOR was in honor of Black History Month – even though we know at POOR Magazine that every month is Black history. One of our guest speakers, Kinara Sankofa, blew the crowd away.

Wooden Sankofa bird
Carving of the Sankofa bird
Being that I graduated from an Africana Studies program, his name automatically intrigued me because Sankofa is an important part of Black history. Though our guest did not talk about the meaning of Sankofa, I thought it was important to understand the context of this historically significant name. According to Black Student Union coordinators at the University of Illinois:

“The concept of ‘Sankofa’ is derived from King Adinkera of the Akan people of West Africa. ‘Sankofa’ is expressed in the Akan language as ‘Se wo were fi na wosan kofa a yenki.’ Literally translated, this means, ‘It is not taboo to go back and fetch what you forgot.’

“‘Sankofa’ teaches us that we must go back to our roots in order to move forward. That is, 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 forward. Whatever we have lost, forgotten, forgone or been stripped of can be reclaimed, revived, preserved and perpetuated.

‘Sankofa’ teaches us that we must go back to our roots in order to move forward. That is, 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 forward.

“Visually and symbolically, ‘Sankofa’ is expressed as a mythic bird that flies forward while looking backward with an egg (symbolizing the future) in its mouth. This ties with our motto: ‘In order to understand our present and ensure our future, we must know our past.’”

Kinara Sankofa is an inspiring artist, entrepreneur and leader. He has been writing poetry for years. When I asked him what kind of poetry he writes, he said his biggest dream is to write about love and the beauty of the Black woman. He went on to explain how valuable Black women are and that we deserve to have good men in our lives.

He moved to Australia for about 20 years, where he fell in love with a woman who inspired much of his poetry. He also talked about how men are disconnected from their femininity. He said that for men to cry and show vulnerability is actually a sign of strength, not weakness.

In an insightful linguistic flip, he used the term “white inferiority” instead of white supremacy, and he made it clear that we have to stop blaming other people for our problems. He said that we need to educate the next generation of powerful Black revolutionary leaders by teaching our history in our communities – such as the often forgotten fact that Tulsa, Oklahoma, used to be the home of Black Wall Street – and celebrating people such as Malcolm X, Assata Shakur and Muhammad Ali.

Kinara Sankofa-2 by PNN, web
Kinara Sankofa – Photo: PNN
Among his many accomplishments, Kinara Sankofa has also written a book and started a clothing line. Black Power Clothing has a beautiful logo of a Black fist with African colors. Visit his website at www.ashaybythebay.com.

He closed out his presentation at the POOR Magazine Community Newsroom with a poem entitled “The Coldest Summer Ever.” He captured the moment with his last sentence in the poem saying, “‘Niggas’ spelled backwords is ‘saggin.’” This poem was awesome and really got the newsroom thinking. There were no disagreements with anything he was preaching.

Kinara Sankofa said that we need to educate the next generation of powerful Black revolutionary leaders by teaching our history in our communities – such as the often forgotten fact that Tulsa, Oklahoma, used to be the home of Black Wall Street – and celebrating people such as Malcolm X, Assata Shakur and Muhammad Ali.

After his poem, we finished with a drum circle and a prayer. What can you get that is better than that?! Even though February is the shortest month of the year, we celebrated Black History Month with unity and community at POOR magazine, knowing always that every month, every day we make, celebrate and manifest Black history.

To come through to Community Newsroom, join us on the first Tuesday of every month at 2940 16th St. #301 in San Francisco’s gentrified Mission district for as long as us po’ folks can hold on here. Child care and healthy dinner always provided. Street Newsroom on Deep East TV meets every Thursday, 12-3 p.m., on the streets of beautiful Deep East Oakland at the sacred land we call Homefulness, 8032 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland.

Leontyne Smith is an activist and journalist with Poor News Network. She can be reached via deeandtiny@poormagazine.org. Visit POOR at www.poormagazine.org.

 

2 thoughts on “Sankofa one hundred percent

  1. mike

    Very well written article. Bringing out the meaning behind the word Sankofa and its relation to black history was insightful.
    Very proud of my daughter and her accomplishments.

    Reply
    1. Kinara

      Indeed Mike, it was an awesome write and I am grateful to have met your daughter. I had no idea that it had been posted on FB until today when a dear friend/sister from Holland mentioned it to me in an email. It's "refreshing" to hear a fathers proud energy about his child. Well done my brother and keep doing what you're doing. May you and yours always be blessed with growth, love and prosperity!

      Sankofa

      Reply

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