Welcome to The Sankofa Projects blogspot!!!
"In the spirit of SANKOFA...Reach Back and Fetch your history & your culture so that you will take purposeful steps into the future."
~ Chadra Pittman Walke, Founder & Executive Director
For more info or to schedule a program contact us:
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Sunday, June 17, 2012
Saturday, June 16, 2012
Today marks one week since we met at Buckroe Beach, were lead around the "Tree of Remembrance" by Priest Ogunjimi, paid tribute to the ancestors who perished in the watery grave of the Atlantic Ocean through dance, dramatic readings, poetry, prayers on flowers, moments of silence and tears shed.
Thank you for coming out to participate in this Inaugural Remembrance Ceremony and for being a part of making history. We, in Hampton, Virginia, along with others in New York, South Carolina, Washington, Panama, Ghana and the Virgin Islands came together and poured libations on June 9, 2012 to honor the lives lost during the Middle Passage of the Transatlantic Enslavement Trade. As the Sankofa proverb teaches us, which is translated as "reach back and fetch it," let us continue to fetch our history and our culture taking purposeful steps forward towards a dynamic future. Thank you for being a part of this movement! It was a beautiful day and I surely hope the ancestors were pleased.
Whether you were a part of the scheduled program, stood up to share your feelings, poetry, shared information about an organization you are affiliated with, sent gifts by mail or you sat quietly in the midst- sincerest thanks to you !!!
In our sacred circle at the Remembrance ceremony were: concerned, sentient beings, family and dear friends, passersby, Presidents /members of ASALH, Project 1619, Reggae Virginia, the Mayor's office, Rising the Vibration, Visionaries Photography, Poetics, Dance with Sunshine, COLLAGE, Ile Nago, the Middle Passage Project at the College of William and Mary, Akeru Ministries, United Souls Band, Sassy Ears, The Reiki Healing Arts, Heliopolis RPM, Fit to be Goddess, OISI and Lover of Life. So grateful for all of you!!
This blog is to capture the thoughts, sentiments, writings...and the links for our kindred organziations. If you do not see your link here and would like it posted, please comment and share your link. Thank you.
The Facebook page is the place to capture the pictures and the calendar of events so that we can connect with cultural/educational/historical happenings in the Hampton Roads community. The link for "The Sankofa Project" Facebook page is to the right of this page under Let's Support these Sites. Let's stay connected!!
Looking forward to seeing you next year at our 2nd Annual Remembrance Ceremony. We'll meet under the tree! Ashe!
Friday, June 15, 2012
Thank you to my mother, Cecelia White Pittman for leading by example and showing me the importance of touching your roots, my father,Carlton Pittman the griot-for sharing funny and compelling stories from his childhood about my grandparents and the Africans who came to visit them, my sister, Dr. Carlane Pittman Hampton, my PR, media person extraordinaire-who has supported all my passions, my Bro in law Adonis Hampton, for giving me contacts for local papers, my sistah and dear friend, Deborah Wright my kindred -we share a love for everything African and who inspired me to create Remembrance in Virginia based on her 15 years as one of the founders of Remembrance in South Carolina, the Remembrance Committee: Ronald Orme,thank you for your friendship and support all these years and all the stages of my life,thank you for the gifts of ice and leading the way as the best clean up crew ever, Latania Brock dear fg and friend always ready hear new ideas and support me through them-thank you for the umbrella to shade us,John and Jerrie Spruce, a beautiful couple committed to our culture and their beautiful daughter, thank you for the Downing Gross meeting room, reading the excerpts at the ceremony,thank you for your flexibility and being in the moment, and for those gifts of cowrie and candle, Sunshine Allison and her dancers, Karah Churmusi, Ericka Mitchell and Nikkitta Simpson for evoking strength and power in their performance, Sistah Wanda Sabir for gathering all those involved in the Remembrance together on the air at one time, Dr. Chenzira of Per Ankh University for your support and a wonderful radio interview-we are kindred for sure, Professor Artisia Green of the College of William and Mary-thank you for sharing your gift of theatrics with us- your powerful performance of "Crossing a Deep River: A Ritual Drama in Three Movements" brilliantly written by Rev. Dr. Joanne M. Braxton of the Middle Passage Project at the College of William stirred up such emotion and thanks to the former student who assisted you, thank you to Rev. Dr. Braxton for the generous gift of the sage you sent so you could be with us in spirit, I appreciate your kindness and for sharing your play with us at this sacred ceremony and sharing this event with others, to Priest Ogunjimi who named the "Tree of Remembrance"and taught us all that day, for leading us with a beautiful and emotional libation with Awo Baba Adeyemi, Drummer Brother Larry Gibson aka GIP who greeted me with open arms from the start-we are kindred and invited Drummer Walker to drum and be with us, Ventia Benitez for sending the gift of the Proclamation for me to read from President Barack Obama citing January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention month, to my family Tom and Daphanie Thomas for surprising me by coming to support me -you brought me to tears, Dr. Colita Fairfax who shared the Remembrance information with Calvin Pearson and members of Project 1619 so they could attend, Anita Harrell of the Weyanoke Association for generously providing me with contacts in the cultural community, to Dr. Chon Glover who counseled me, gave great advice like "you should start a blog;)", I listened Chon thank you for your friendship, hugs, love and reminding me it is "when not if!", to Dr. Marilyn Mobley who was my teacher then became my Aquarian sistah friend, I have grown up with you and we have shared many moments, thank you for your prayers and believing in me teacher of "Both and", to Dr. Michael Blakey- thank you for your support, advice, listening ear and for leading us through the amazing journey of the New York African Burial Ground Project where my commitment and link to the ancestors was formed, to Jenn y Michael, Mano, Kianna, Dana, Alliot,lil sis Ayaba, Rula,Sharon,my sistahs and brothers- thank you for your support,love, encouragement and friendship,to my families Mama Jones and Mr. Clarence for your love and encouragement and Sara and Steve Credito(MD) for the love and support you all are family to me, my surrogate, Mrs. Joan T. Gibbs, you saw me when others didn't and supported me in all ways, to Uncle Bruce and Aunt Marlene for the love you've shown my family for the past 60 years and for the love and support you show, for always making time for our boys, to my best friend of 22 years Candice Ferreira for her unconditional love and support and encouraging me pursuing my passions "like a tree in da wind", Doug Jones my brother and brilliant writer who is the whisper in my ear, praying with me-nudging me me forward, to my darling sons who gave me the quiet time, most days - bless their active minds and souls and the space to work on this program, for my husband and partner of almost 11 years Dr. James T. Walke, thank you for your support and unconditional love, for seeing me with both eyes open and giving me the room to spread my wings. Je t'aime.
To my African Ancestors who paved the way, some who never made it off the ships alive, who lay in the watery grave of the Atlantic, for those who fought, resisted, struggled, and those who survived, on whose shoulders I stand, I am indebted to you and eternally grateful. I pray this Remembrance begins the healing that we all need.
Thursday, June 14, 2012
On Saturday, June 9, 2012, The Sankofa Projects hosted our Inaugural Remembrance ceremony. The tradition of Tributes to the Ancestors who perished in the Middle passage has a long history which spans decades if not longer. The Tradition of Tributes to the Ancestors that we are apart of began in New York 23 years ago, in South Carolina 15 years ago and now occurs in St. Croix, Panama, Ghana, West Africa, Seattle, Washington. Being that Virginia is the birthplace of enslavement in North America, I felt it was imperative that we, in Virginia, begin the tradition of Remembrance here.
Our Remembrance ceremony was a deeply spiritual and educational event which began with a beautiful procession of drumming and shekeres we walked down to the beach where we sat in a circle. We burned the sage to honor the Native American /Indian presence for it was on this land which was stolen from the Native Americans/Indians and on this soil where the Africans toiled as enslaved peoples. The sage was to acknowledge the Native spirits who have gone on, to cleanse the space as we paid homage to our African ancestors in the "briny deep."
It was a day of healing, remembering, reflections, lessons learned, stories shared, poetry, dance, dramatic readings, prayers, new friendships made, reconnecting with those friends from before and libation as we celebrated the lives of those millions of Africans who never made it off the enslavement ships alive. An excerpt of "Crossing a Deep River: A Ritual Drama in Three Movements"; a play written by Dr. Joanne Braxton, Director and Founder of the Middle Passage Project at the College of William and Mary was performed by Professor Green. We were all moved by context of the play and Professor Greens artistic expression of the piece. As well, the student who accompanied Prof. Green was a wonderful addition to the performance.
In attendance at the ceremony were members of ASALH, Project 1619, city officials, members of United Souls Band, Ile Nago, Akeru Ministries, members of Virginia Reggae, members of Poetics and members of the community. In all, there were about 60people at the ceremony, some passersby that said they heard the drumming and saw the white clothing in a distance and came to be with us.
The libation given was incredibly powerful; moving many to tears. As the group shouted, ASHE" we released the flowers into the water,. It was then that a bird appeared circling above us. The bird swooped down into the water in a straight line, disappeared for a moment and reappeared above the water and flew straight back up into the sky. The bird did this 3 or 4 times, diving into the water and then ascending into the sky. It was such a moment and I couldn't help but point the bird and call out "Sankofa." In unison, we shouted "Sankofa" several times as we watched the bird soar.
Sankofa reminds us to know where we have come from so that we know where we are going. This Inaugural Remembrance ceremony reminded us of the importance of looking back and we are already looking forward to celebrating and honoring our ancestors next year.
Join us Saturday, June 8, 2013 at Buckroe Beach to honor them once again. As Deborah Wright, Co-Founder of the Charleston South Carolina remembrance tradition says, "If we don't remember them, who will?"
Let us do this in Remembrance of them!
Photo credit; Gerry Navarette of Visionaries Photography