Black Entertainment : Sankofa


Well-Known Member
Feb 28, 2009


This 1993 film by Haile Gerima bends concepts of time and space in order to take the protagonist, Mona, and the audience through the terrible ordeal that was the Maafa, the African Holocaust (� Although the majority of his film takes place in the past, Gerima fervently believes that the importance of the film Sankofa is the direction it can provide for both the present and the future.

As the film begins and the opening credits roll, we hear a drum beat and a voice passionately urging the spirit of the dead, those who died in Surinam, Brazil, Jamaica, Mississippi, Florida, and Alabama, to "rise up and claim their bird of passage" (Gerima). The opening sequence ends with a bronze figure of a bird with its head turned backwards, looking behind itself. The source of the drumming is revealed to be an African man, covered in a white ceremonial clay or ash.� He is named Sankofa the Divine Drummer, and, as it will be revealed, he believes that his daily drumming is necessary to lead the spirits of those killed in the African Diaspora back home.�

The scene shifts and Mona makes her first appearance along the beach, wearing what film critic Andy Spletzer calls "an orange, Tina Turner fright wig". Mona is modeling for a fashion shoot, and her white American photographer is encouraging her to "be more sexy" and to "give me more sex" (Gerima). The Divine Drummer reappears, startling Mona. Sankofa is now dressed in a flowing robe, minus his ceremonial chalked skin.� He confronts the model and photographer, chastising them in an African language that escapes the two Americans completely, but that the viewing audience is able to understand through subtitles. Because of the language barrier, Mona is able to dismiss Sankofa in her mind as absurd, and laughs at the old man.

Mona and her photographer resume their photo shoot,....


Well-Known Member
Feb 28, 2009
SANKOFA FIRE! Arson fire destroys over 10,000 copies
of landmark film

By Lyle Muhammad
Washington -- Only one day after an April 13 spring office warming and video signing officially launched the internationally acclaimed movie "Sankofa" onto the home video market, a fire ravaged through a supply room housing 10,000 "Sankofa" videos and production materials.

Independent Black filmmaker Haile Gerima and his wife Shirikina Aina just returned from a tour of Africa promoting the movie, which has been seen in 32 different cities in the United States. Details concerning the blaze are sketchy and the D.C. Fire Department is conducting an investigation.

While it is too early to know for sure, the fire has left Haile Gerima devastated. He has been too distraught to visit the site where so much of his work lie in ruins.

"We have done a lot of work to reclaim our own image, battling against one of the largest industries in the country. It's been a real downer to deal with the fire," Mr. Gerima told the Final Call. Figures are not clear yet on the amount of damages incurred.

"We understand the powers that be and we have faced bigger obstacles," he concluded. Even though numbers won't be available until the insurance company completes its investigation, some materials lost are priceless. Not only were 'Sankofa' videos destroyed, original video artwork, soundtracks, CD's, and other films including "Harvest 3000 Years," "Bush Momma," and "Child of Resistance" were also lost.

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