Sankofa: Celebrating Our African Heritage

Over 200 students participated in the 2nd Annual celebration of Sankofa, a student-run event hosted by the African American Student Union, Africa Business Club, and Caribbean Business Club. The word “Sankofa” comes from the Akan – Twi language spoken in Ghana, West Africa. It means: “We must look back into the past so that we can move forward into the future.” This celebration coincides with the observance of Black History Month as we remember the many individuals who have made sacrifices to secure the civil rights and liberties we all have today.

While listening to the hypnotic rhythms of a steel pan band, students feasted on tasty cuisine native to African-Americans, Africans, and Caribbeans. Then the journey began through the examination of our roots in Africa, the origin of mankind. This year’s program weaved through the historical context of slavery and gospel, to the birth of Reggae and Anansi folktales, to the development and cultural influence of jazz and dance. Captivating the audience along the way, the African fashion show highlighted the creativity in design and versatility that everyone craves; Professor Noel Watson’s rendition of Bob Marley’s “One Love’ gave everyone the chance to chime in; and the Greek step show, that brought everyone to their feet, demonstrated the fun rivalry between fraternities.

All of these elements came together, showcasing the diversity and talent of people of the African diaspora. Many of their contributions to society were acknowledged during the soulful Duke Ellington jazz piece “In A Sentimental Mood”. To close out the night, the audience was drawn into the modern African dance, called Soukous, followed by the hip hop dance performers. Afterwards, students dispersed to dance the rest of the night away with a greater appreciation of the significance of African heritage and its influence throughout the world. With this, the night’s journey had finally come to an end.