By Salim K.T. Adofo
Saturday October 15th, 2011 in Galveston Texas, the National Black United Front (NBUF) hosted its 14th Annual Sankofa Caravan to the Ancestors, an interfaith ancestral celebration and commemoration. The theme of this years’ caravan was “Revolutionizing Afrikan People.”
Participants as far as Florida, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Oklahoma and San Antonio met at the Houston headquarters of NBUF, as early as 6 a.m. to begin a caravan of over 40 cars, vans, and buses to the island of Galveston TX. The caravan was met with shouts of praise as it drove through the Galveston’s African community in America, arriving at 29th Ave. and Seawall Blvd. This location was chosen, because of its historical significance.
Research conducted by Brother Omowale Olanrewaju, from NBUF Houston, showed that African slaves were brought to America through that location and sold to plantation owners throughout the southern states of America. Understanding these historical facts and incidents is vital to the educational development of African people, but the Sankofa Caravan is deeper than just slavery. Sankofa is a word derived from the Akan, a Ghanain tribe in West Africa. It means to “go back and fetch it.” It is symbolized with a bird whose neck is bent backward and holding an egg in its mouth. This indicates that one must understand her or his heritage in order to properly go forward. It also symbolizes that the preservation of ones’ heritage must be handled with care. If it is held to loosely it will fall and break or if it is held to tightly it will be crushed.
Once arriving to the beach Salim Adofo, NBUF’s National Vice Chairperson opened up the program after receiving permission from the elders. The ceremony began with prayers from the various spiritual (religious) traditions that were present, such as Christian, Islamic, Kemetic & Rastafari. Brother Omowale then presented a Sankofa collage of pictures, of NBUF members that recently join the realm of the Egungun (a Yoruba word that means ancestors). The collage was designed by Sister Danielle, an NBUF member from New Orleans. Omilana Ifaronke an Ifa Priestess, conducted the ritual aspect of the ceremony which included a libation, a griot and offerings to those that have passed away. The highlight of the day for many, was the special performance by the African drum and dance group Bandan Koro, from Dallas Texas.
The 14th Annual Sankofa Caravan concluded at Old Central Cultural Center with presentations form former Political Prisoner Baba Herman Ferguson and his wife Iyaalua Ferguson, Kouman Ke’le’ African Dance & Drum Ensemble, poets Ajoke Olanipekun and Punkin from Pluto. Also performing were Brother James from the Organization for Black Unity (OBU) Inc. and the I.F.A. Warriors (Intelligent Fearless Africans) Rap Group. Baba Phil Johnson of OBU closed the program out with a very inspirational and motivating prayer.
To view photos of the 14th Annual Sankofa Caravan to the Ancestors http://flic.kr/s/aHsjwqBGQB
To see video click here: http://youtu.be/al-iiWMFFHQ