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Album Release: "Sankofa Songs: A Legacy of Roots and Rhythm"

  • The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic 1675 Lower Water Street Halifax, NS, B3J 1S3 Canada (map)

The Helen Creighton Folklore Society proudly announces the launch of - Sankofa Songs: A Legacy of Roots and Rhythm. Sankofa: a West African word from the Akan people meaning “to go back and get what was taken”. The term made its way to North America and scholars coin its meaning as, “remembering our past, to protect our future legacy!”

Canada’s “First Lady of Folklore” first recorded African Nova Scotian traditional music in 1943 when she visited the home of William Riley in Cherry Brook. Mr. Riley was the portal to Dr. Creighton’s introduction to this rich heritage - a heritage she had not explored and one in which she had little experience. That same year she recorded John Tynes at her home in Dartmouth.

Hers was a journey of discovery and learning about diversity. In 1944, she collected songs and singing games from the young singers at The Nova Scotia Home for Coloured Children. Her search for traditional music in the Black community also took her to Inglewood, near Bridgetown where she met and collected from her oldest tradition bearer, 101 years old Charles Owens and his family of singers.

In 1967, she arranged for funding to hire Marvin Burke to visit contemporary singers and record their songs. As part of the Creighton Collection, Marvin was able to record such iconic members of the Black community as Delmore “Buddy” Daye, Murray Langford, The New Road Settlement Community Club Singers and, most poignant of all, the famous West singers, featuring Mrs. Lena West and members of the Seaview African United Baptist Church at the final Easter Sunrise Service in Africville - six months before the church was shamefully razed that same year.

The Helen Creighton Folklore Society is honoured to be able to bring these original recordings to the forefront in a CD and enclosed booklet. Produced by folklorist, Clary Croft and assisted by Dr. Henry Bishop, this living archive is a valuable legacy to all Nova Scotians. The CD will have an official launch on April 28th at 2 p.m. at The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, 1675 Lower Water St, Halifax. Everyone is welcome.

Copies of the CD will be available for sale and a special treat will be in store as we celebrate this auspicious event. One of the original performers from the CD will be present to share a song or two. For additional information, please contact: Clary Croft [cs.croft@ns.sympatico.ca]

Note: For media: Both Clary Croft and Henry Bishop would be available for press interviews.

For community and heritage organizations: If you are attending on behalf of a heritage or cultural organization you are welcome to bring printed material to hand out to those present. A table will be set aside for you to leave such information.

Source: African Nova Scotian Directory

Sankofa is a word in the Twi language of Ghana that translates to "Go back and get it" (san - to return; ko - to go; fa - to fetch, to seek and take) and also refers to the Asante Adinkra symbol represented either with a stylized heart shape or by a bird with its head turned backwards while its feet face forward carrying a precious egg in its mouth. Sankofa is often associated with the proverb, “Se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi," which translates as: "It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten."

In addition to being used on adinkra cloth in Ghana, the Sankofa heart is a common design on gates in the United States, particularly New York City. In Brooklyn, the Sankofa heart is commonly upside down on gates to Brownstone residential buildings.

The sankofa bird appears frequently in traditional Akan art, and has also been adopted as an important symbol in an African Diaspora context to represent the need to reflect on the past to build a successful future. It is one of the most widely dispersed adinkra symbols, appearing in modern jewelry, tattoos, and clothing.

The Akan people of Ghana use an Adinkra symbol to represent this same idea and one version of it is similar to the eastern symbol of a heart, and another version is that of a bird with its head turned backwards taking an egg off its back. It symbolizes taking from the past what is good and bringing it into the present in order to make positive progress through the benevolent use of knowledge. Adinkra symbols are used by the Akan people to express proverbs and other philosophical ideas.

The sankofa bird also appears on carved wooden Akan stools, in Akan goldweights, on some ruler's state umbrella or parasol (ntuatire) finials and on the staff finials of some court linguists. It functions to foster mutual respect and unity in tradition.[4]

Earlier Event: April 28
World Day for Safety and Health at Work
Later Event: April 29
International Dance Day