The Sankofa Bird

Rhonda's 304

 The Sankofa Bird A West African Symbol

The pictograph illustrates the quest for knowledge, while the proverb suggests the rightness of such a quest as long as it is based on knowledge of the past.  The Akan believe that the past illuminates the present and that the search for knowledge is a life-long process.

 The word Sankofa is derived from the words ‘San’ (return), ‘Ko’ (go), and ‘Fa’ (look, seek and take). The Akan believe that there must be movement with the times but as the forward march proceeds, the gems must be picked up from behind and carried forward on the march.

The Sankofa bird is flying forward while looking backward with an egg in its mouth. The egg symbolizes the future. “We must go back and reclaim our past so we can move forward; so we understand why and how we came to be who we are today.” “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.

It is not taboo to go back and fetch it when you forget or don’t know. 

Whatever we have lost, forgotten, forgone or been stripped of, can be reclaimed, revived, preserved and perpetuated. The Sankofa bird has its feet firmly planted forward, but its head turned backwards, with an egg, symbolizing the future, held tightly in its mouth. Not only is there wisdom in learning from the past to build the future but 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. In every aspect of life – personal, spiritual, business, professional, whatever, you cannot move forward until you’ve looked back and absorbed where you’ve been.

The symbol often is associated with the proverb, “Se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi,” which translates to, “It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten.”