Paul H. Williams, Gleaner Writer
THE SANKOFA Village at the Marcus Garvey Fair on Sunday, February 24, at Resource, Manchester, was abuzz with children learning and enjoying themselves. Yet, alas, at the end the event, the coordinators had to pack their bags and go to prepare for another event at another time, at another place.
This village has no permanent location. "It's a mobile culture club", according to its founder, Ka'Fra Sankofa. The club goes wherever it is requested, offering a varieties of activities.
The Sankofa Village provides entertainment with a difference. Instead of the regular bounce-abouts, clowns, merry-go-rounds, etc, it engages young patrons in activities such as afro-centric face-painting, mask-making, art and craft, songs, dance, and drumming. It's a hands-on experience in which they are taught and are allowed to execute what they have learned.
But the Sankofa Village is more than just fun and games. It is geared at teaching patrons in a creative way about Africa and African principles such as unity, self-determination, purpose, creativity, cooperative economics, collective work and accountability, and faith. It also offers motivational and empowerment talks. It addresses the notion of black identity and issues such as skin bleaching, "what's cool to be black and what's not". Sankofa itself means to go back and get it. It's about using the past to inform the present. Ka'Fra is an Akan word which means to combine two things to make one thing.
Sankofa Village has been up and running since January, and returned resident Ka'Fra, who had a similar venture in the United Kingdom, said the feedback is "good, very good". She said further: "The children in particular love it because it's very colourful, it's creative. In a lot of events, the children don't get to be creative. The parents like it because it gives the children something positive to do, and what the parents like is the fact that there's a lot of information, so while the children are doing things, the parents can learn as well."
The patrons in the Sankofa Village don't pay, as the cost is offset by the organisers of the event. The idea is that children should not be deprived of the creativity, educational, and empowerment opportunities that Sankofa Village offers.
Though it's a mobile club, Ka'Fra, who is also a fashion designer, said a regular place where people could go to see what Sankofa Village is about is desirable. "However, the feedback is very good, so we need to be somewhere. The only downside is that people can't get to us," she said. She may be reached, though, at www.sankofavillage.com and info@sankofavillage.