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This film by Haile Gerima fuses concepts of time and space to transport the protagonist, Mona, and the viewers through the terrible torment that was the Maafa, the African Holocaust. Sankofa, an Akan symbol, means that to understand the present and “move forward” one must reclaim the past. For Gerima, Sankofa is about the importance of remembering [and] about most of us who deny the therapeutic aspect of the therapeutic power of history.” The story’s protagonist is Mona, an African-American model on a fashion shoot in Ghana who is possessed by ancestral spirits and reincarnated as Shola, a house slave on a sugar plantation. By this dramatic re-enactment and Shola’s rape and abuse, the travesty of slave society is rendered transparent, challenging African-Americans to confront the holocaust that was slavery and reconstitute them in recognition of a shared racial past. (Alim, 2-8) “Sankofa,” is a moving, excellently produced, and thoroughly African-centered portrayal of slavery. The film was appreciated is by Black folk everywhere, but just getting it shown in small theaters and unconventional venues required a struggle of heroic proportions. (Sankofa, 1993)


At the beginning of the film, there is an African-American model taking pictures on a beach. A white photographer is taking her “sexy” pictures. A man called Sankofa is shouting at her in his local language. As this scene takes place she hides behind the white photographer. As time passes, she, along with the tour group goes into the cave, and in an attempt to find her way out of the cave she is taken into another time. She travels back to the times of slaves. It is at this point that she discovers her roots. She recalls what her ancestors experienced and how she was dishonoring them, presently. She had to bear what her ancestors had to go through, from the labeling with a hot iron to the beatings with a whip. During her voyage, she acquired a little bird from the man she treasured. Its given name was Sankofa. (Aybar; Jose, 10-19)

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Near the conclusion of the movie the slave’s revolt and escape. While they are escaping she feels being elevated up into the air, suspended. Then, near the conclusion of the movie she, and other natives, just assemble on the stairs and linger while staring at the ocean. This is a symbolic interpretation of people waiting for their Sankofa. They were anticipating their bird to arrive and take them back, take them somewhere else. They were hoping to experience that blissful journey with Sankofa. (Alim, 2-8)

The matter of skin color has been a perpetual issue in America. Skin color is categorized if you were a slave out in the countryside or the dwelling. The lighter your skin was the “superior” you were, the more fortunate you were. This was one of the methods the whites separated African-Americans as a nation. If a Black person was lighter than the rest of the people, he was better than the rest of the Black people were. The lighter natives started to believe that they were better than the dark ones. They received better clothes and food. This matter of skin color is presently widespread in our social norms. Some natives believe that they are superior to others as they are lighter in competition. We must put this issue of the skin behind us and come together as a nation. In this movie skin color was a key issue. (Sankofa, 1993) There was even segregation between the slaves. A man was trained that he was superior to the other slaves even though his mother was raped by a white man on the slave ship. He was offered extraordinary rights like being educated to read. The white men brainwashed him to think that he was better than the other slave and he was special and different. He was chosen by God and for that reason, he was given a lighter complexion by God. He was also being taught that he was not like the other slaves, he was different and special. That man was hypnotized to an extent that he did not join his people or his mother. Just because his mother tried to claim him as her son, he killed her. He was a character with no past, but just his future. One of the main themes of this movie was religion. The slaves were also divided based on religion. The overseer pushing the slaves to beat, sometimes to death their fellow slaves; children and families brutally, randomly separated; slaves getting dreadful punishments for attempting to run away. Less common but apt is Gerima’s blunt reflection of the white man’s employment of Christianity to take advantage of and be in charge of slaves. (Alim, 2-8)

Throughout the film, several characters come to glowing life. There’s Alexandra Nuah’s intrepid, affectionate, matriarchal Nunu; Mutabaruka’s Shango, strong-minded insurgent much-loved by the initially scared Shola, the slave woman Mona has turned out to be; and Nick Medley’s beleaguered Joe, the diverse race Christian tattered between his commitment to his Christian God and the other slaves, in their torment. From these fine actors and numerous more, Gerima has drawn out vivacious, emotional performances, and Ogunlano’s revolution from Mona to Shola (and back) is inspiring in its all-embracing emotions and sensitivity. (Aybar; Jose, 10-19)

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Gerima and his film are symbolic of how significant it is for natives of color to let them know their narratives, which is not to refute that several momentous films concerning blacks have in reality been filmed by whites. But so much of the African narratives are dreadful to the point of irrationality that it takes a tough African artistic, steeped in intellectual and religious awareness, to induce from its logic of the tragic relatively than the simply overemotional.

According to Africa folklore, Sankofa was the guardian of the African American natives. He used his drums to battle the vice spirits existing in the world. The movie Sankofa depicts slavery in Lafayette with some of the most horrible and dreadful moments any viewer has ever laid eyes on. All through this movie, numerous other subplots exist but the chief goal for the slaves in Lafayette is an improved life. A life not led by a White Slave-master. They hunted and ratified ways that they could attain one objective: liberty.

Sankofa is an Akan word meaning that we must return and retrieve our history so we can go forward; so we recognize why and how we came to be who we are present. Penned, directed, and also produced by Ethiopian filmmaker Haile Gerima, Sankofa is an influential movie regarding Maafa–the African holocaust. Pictured from an African/African-American viewpoint, this story is an entirely diverse one from the usually imprecise representations of the African populace that Hollywood provides us with. It gives power to Black natives on the screen by screening how African people”s yearning for liberty made them oppose, refute, and scheme in opposition to their masters and combined history through the vision on Mona, who visits her familial experience on a new world agricultural estate as Shola. We view the life she tolerates as a slave and experiences her budding awareness and revolution. (Aybar; Jose, 10-19)

Even though Sankofa is seen by some as an illustration of new cinematic methods, it can be mistaken as:…an estrange convention. This can cause the point of the movie to seem compromised.


Sankofa is deemed to be a momentous epic. It was produced during a point when many African cinematography projects were postponed and otherwise aggravated and prejudiced by such elements as changes in their African recipients and unwieldy direction processes. It has been regarded by critics to be a pattern of a new cinematic custom. This ground-breaking feature film connects confined black people with their African history and civilization. (Sankofa, 1993)

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