During my first couple of weeks at Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota someone told me about the Sankofa bird. The Sankofa Bird is a symbol that is used to explain the Sankofa a concept derived from the Akan people of West Africa. Simply put the concept of the Sankofa says that ‘one must return to the past in order to move forward.’ What I found interesting is the portrayal of the Sankofa Bird. The Sankofa bird is flying forward while looking backward with an egg in its mouth. It seems strange, if not impossible that a bird should fly forward while looking backward. And in everyday endeavors it is difficult to move forward while looking back because one must ‘look where they are going’. The concept of the Sankofa does not downplay the future while glorifying the past but challenges us to embrace the past and the future in a harmonious and balanced way. As growing leaders in development and social entrepreneurship we all have visions and dreams that we are pursuing every day and I believe the concept of the Sankofa bird offers very useful insight on how best we can move the vision forward. We should reach back and gather the best of what our past has to teach us, so that we can achieve our full potential as we move forward. We are a product of our past experiences and whatever we have learnt, enjoyed, achieved, lamented or initiated can all be harnessed and used to progress forward and make our visions a reality.
By Munya Malunga April 20, 2014