Sankofa: Go Back and Get It

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The word Sankofa, means to go back and get it.  The author visits the African Cemetery in Key West, Florida, and writes not only about its slave history but also about its connection to the evils of modern day slavery in our world today…

Key West is known for sunshine and being a vacation paradise. It is the most southern tip of the United States, 90 miles from Cuba. You can embark on an adventure through a trolley ride, visit President Harry Truman’s “Little Whitehouse,” walk the legendary trails of Ernest Hemingway, and eat countless slices of Key Lime pie. The warm weather, delicious food, and cultural diversity will have you book the next trip upon arrival. I was fully indulging in the Florida Sunshine experience when my tour guide mentioned the African Cemetery. This sent me on a path of exploration and self-discovery.

The sayings throughout the memorial connects the past with the present and the future.

  • Nkonsonkonson, “We are linked by blood in life and death.”
  • Gye Nyame, “I fear nothing in the Universe, except God.”
  • Osram means “the moon does not hasten on its way around the world.”
  • Nyame Birini Wo Soro is a symbol of hope and faith. “God, I know there is something in the heavens.”
  • Wawa Aba compels us to look to the Wawa tree as inspiration for its hardness, toughness, and endurance.
  • Epa is reflected by handcuffs as a reminder that “you are the property of the one who handcuffs you were.”
  • Sankofa reflects the philosophy of “go back and fetch it.” It also means “we must return to the source.”
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As I passed the circle, I was challenged to retrieve and remember what was lost. Not cargo, not money, not slaves but African men, women, and children. Someone’s mother, brother, aunt, or husband boarded these fleets at points of no return. Two hundred ninety five individuals with a name, story, culture, and heritage were laid to rest at this site. However, their stories live on as we challenge modern day slavery in the form of mass incarceration, human trafficking, discrimination, bigotry, and hatred.

The writer who see the importance going back to get the past, Sankofa, also made a pledge to remember the losses of slavery.  Not cargo, not money, not slaves but African men, women, and children. Someone’s mother, brother, aunt, or husband boarded these fleets at points of no return. Two hundred ninety five individuals with a name, story, culture, and heritage were laid to rest at this site. However, their stories live on as we challenge modern day slavery in the form of mass incarceration, human trafficking, discrimination, bigotry, and hatred.

This article quotes Ossie Davis as he delivered the eulogy of Malcolm X: “Consigning these mortal remains to earth, the common mother of all, secure in the knowledge that what we place in the ground is no more now a man – but a seed – which, after the winter of our discontent, will come forth again to meet us. And we will know him then for what he was and is – a Prince – our own black shining Prince!”

To read the entire article about the African Cemetery, click on the link below.

View Article on The Huffington Post

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