Over the last year, UNC Greensboro celebrated its 125th anniversary. The occasion has given us time to remember our past — but also to envision our future. I was recently reminded of what a gift such moments are during UNCG’s 2018 Conference on African American and African Diasporic Cultures and Experience, where a presenter introduced me to the concept of Sankofa.
The term, from the Akan people of Ghana, means “to go back and fetch it.” It is typically heard as part of a proverb that translates to “it is not wrong to go back for what you have forgotten or lost.”
The symbol for Sankofa is a bird looking backward, with an egg in its mouth representing the future. The proverb has been particularly important to peoples of the African Diaspora, for whom the meaning has evolved to “remembering the past, to protect the future.”
As UNCG looks forward, I find myself thinking that Sankofa holds important lessons for us as scholars. The concept weaves through much of our work, as is evidenced in this latest issue of UNCG Research Magazine.