Movie Analysis Essay on Sankofa

Paper Type:  Movie review
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  980 Words
Date:  2023-01-28


This is a Burkinabe drama film that was set in 1993 and directed by Haile Gerima. The film primarily captured the Atlantic Slave trade. Notably, Sankofa's storyline features Afemo Omilami, Oyafunmike Ogunlano, Mutambara Alexandria Duah, and Kofi Ghanaba. The word Sankofa comes from the Ghanaian Akan language, "get back, identify, and gain power, hope, and wisdom" (Tarik 555). It mainly stresses on the importance of staying within one's past to maintain rational progress in the future. In the film, drumming and chants of a Devine Drummer and a bird depicts the Sankofa with an explicit exploration of the importance of maintaining African people within their locality. This paper focuses on examining the critical analysis of the Sankofa film and the Black Consciousness as well as significant elements of the latter.

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Sankofa film is a momentous epic and fuses the concept of space and time for the transportation of the protagonist, Mona as well as viewers through an eventual and terrible torment that the African Holocaust which was associated with Maafa (Tarik 540). The film focuses on telling a story of slavery based on the enslaver perspective and attempts to challenge the slavery romanticizing, which was prevalent in the American culture. It vehemently reiterates the importance of shared race in fighting for one's identity is a segregated racial society as well as African-American bound learned society which can be recognized based on the uncertainty that time and place evaluates. The jury in the film reveals that slavery on the black folks was everywhere in America, and the issues of skin color were predominant and perpetual in the area. Skin color was regarded as the identity of self-based on the possible superiority.

Black Consciousness

Black Consciousness is an awareness of an individual's identity as a person with black color through the formulation of political movements or groupings. It also refers to the realization that a Black man about the need to rally together with his fellow people around their oppression cause primarily through operating as a group to make them rid of the eventualities that expose them to perpetual servitude. Black consciousness seeks to explore the lie that the blacks are exposed to from the white counterparts and also to fuse their community with a new pride which is essential in reverting their focus, value systems, efforts and religion for the better of their lives (Bowdreet al, 234). Overall, Black Consciousness cognizance god's plan and deliberateness about creating black people. In Sankofa film, the exploration of the black race was integral and main storyline centers the life of the slavery and enslavement which they were subjected to in the hands of the whites. Gerima tries to reiterate the value of blacks as opposed to the presumed mind about their value.

Elements of Black Consciousness


One's identity is integral in Black Consciousness and reveals the person position within a given locality. Identity refers to the features that define who a person is with attempts to revamp his or her color and value within a given social setting. It defines one's personalities. Mona, the film protagonist, revamps her identity as an African-American fashion model regardless of the confrontations that she received. The shooting of Mona, who later reappears as a spirit, Shola in a sugar plantation is a clear allegory of the need to unite her people and relieve them from the agony of slavery. The efforts that Mona made in exploring the house of slave and dramatic re-enactment of various issues which affected them black race rendered slavery transparent with excellent suggestions on her identity. Sankofa also maintains his local language while addressing Mona in a hidden scene to revert the attention and view of one's personality.


Time refers to the period through the realization of oneself takes. It remarks the length of the movement and its significance in the social location and place. Time refers to the period of change and shifts from one place to the other; for example, one year or a decade. As the film begins, the African-American model, Mona is seen taking pictures along the shores. The "sexy" pictures are being made by a white photographer. As time passes, Mona with other tour group is seen moving towards a cave which took some more time to reach the place (Stewart, Jacqueline, and Ben 25). However, Gerima reveals that during this time is when Mona realized her true identity and roots from the times of slaves. The revelation of ancestral spirits ascertains her surge to the future.


Location refers to a person's social setting, where an individual lives. The film is based on the white land with massive inculcation of both the white and black cultures throughout its scenes. At the beach, Mona is seen taking sexy pictures, and Gerima uses this opportunity to interpret the essence of a place in an individual's life. Similarly, near the conclusion of the film, the arrival of Sankofa has viewed a relief and a return to somewhere else. The appearance of the bird also anticipates a blissful journey to a new location which is free from exploitations and segregation based on skin color.


In conclusion, the 1993 Sankofa film, which was produced during the postponement of the several projects of African cinematography aggravated significant elements of the latter's culture. The exploration of the black consciousness and fight for freedom from slavery were the main concerns of the film. Gerima builds her storyline from major incidences that took place in America to revamp major Elements of Black Consciousness such as identity, time, and location.

Works Cited

Bowdre, Karen, et al. African American Cinema Through Black Lives Consciousness. Wayne State University Press, 2019.Stewart, Jacqueline, and Ben Caldwell. "Money, Land, Film, Future: in conversation." Portable Gray 1.1 (2018): 15-26.

Tarik, Latif A. "Travel Notes: Pan Africanism (Re) Visited: From Sankofa to Afrofuturism-Summary of the "2 nd Kwame Nkrumah Pan-African Intellectual & Cultural Festival"." Journal of Pan African Studies 12.1 (2018): 537-560.

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