Sankofa and Beyond: My Trip to Ghana

In January, GRID Mid-Atlantic Logistics and Facilities Manager Sundiata Ramin traveled to Ghana. In celebration of Black History Month, Sundiata reflected on his time in Ghana and how African history plays such an important role in Black history.

One of the most sacred Adinkra Symbols of the Asante nation in Ghana is Sankofa, which means, “learn from the past.” The image of a bird reaching back to retrieve an egg representing an unborn life signifies the importance of knowing our history to establish a future.

For the Asante nation in Ghana, "sankofa" is an important symbol meaning to "learn from the past." It is often represented by a bird reaching back to retrieve an egg.

My trip to Ghana affirmed things I’ve known but never really wanted to confront because it required examining the glory and trauma that sent my ancestors to North America because of the Atlantic Slave Trade. However, with a balanced and open approach to visiting Ghana, I found a sense of purpose that had been missing all of my life. I visited the Adanwomasi-Asante village in Kumasi where chief Na Na Kwadwo Ntiamoah Panin II presided over a naming ceremony for descendants of Africa, whereby I accepted the name Yaw (born on Thursday) Baah (intelligent). A name connects us to a land, history and culture which gives us purpose and an attribute to live by.

Sankofa is the foundation of remembering and learning from the past so that we don’t repeat the same mistakes in the future. Black History Month should not only celebrate the achievements of Black people in America but pay homage to our people in Africa and throughout the world.

That was the vision of the first of president of Ghana, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, a graduate of the HBCU Lincoln University and University of Pennsylvania. The "Black Star" on the Ghanian flag represents Black people and the way we should see ourselves. I internalized that concept and dedicated the next five days of my trip to visiting the Assin Manso slave river, Elmina Castle, and Graceland Orphanage in Bawjiasi. At Graceland, I taught the children Go-Go music, then handed out cowbells and tambourines. Later that week, I donated cycling gear to the Gladiators cycling club and rode through the capital city of Accra to historic sites.

This trip was the combination of learning from the past and reminding the future leaders of Ghana that they matter.

GRID Mid-Atlantic Logistics and Facilities Manager Sundiata Ramin (left) meets with local children while visiting Ghana in January 2024.

Sundiata (left) meets with children at the Graceland Orphanage in Ghana.

While in Ghana, GRID Mid-Atlantic Logistics and Facilities Manager Sundiata Ramin visited sites from the Mali Empire, the Atlantic slave trade, Ghana's fight for independence, and its current vibrant economy.

Here at the Elmina Castle, thousands of Africans were detained before being shipped to North America as part of the Atlantic slave trade.

GRID Mid-Atlantic Logistics and Facilities Manager Sundiata Ramin (center) rides with the Gladiators cycling group while visiting Ghana in January 2024.

While in Accra, Ghana's capital, Sundiata (center) rode with the Gladiators, a local cycling group.