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The name “Sankofa” is an Akan (Ghanaian vernacular) word that means, “We must go back and reclaim our past so we can move forward; so we understand why and how we came to be who we are today”. The band opted to use the name because it believes that one must return to the past in order to move forward. Musical knowledge of the past must be revisited in order to inform the future of musical ideas.
The band was started in 2005, by a dedicated and experienced team of Wits University students, who enrolled at the Wits School of Arts (WSOA). This led to Sankofa becoming the band that it has evolved into today, with a membership comprising of seven professional musicians, pursuing musical development continuously.
The band is a four piece African Marimbas band, comprising also of African flutes (self-made), the West African Kora Harp, the Madagascan Vahlia string instrument, mbiras, Jaw Harp, Uhadi and other percussive instruments-agogo, cow bells, rattles, rain stick, djembe’s, congas, bongos. Sankofa’s vision regarding it’s use of indigenous instruments is to be a dynamic, vibrant vehicle for the cataloguing, storing, playing, advancing and evolution of the usage and cross-cultural application of skillful expertise with indigenous instruments, specifically of Africa as a whole, and in a grander perspective, those indigenous instruments of the rest of the world.