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
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Thursday, June 14, 2012
Inaugural Ritual of Remembrance at Buckroe Beach
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