Sankofa – Go back and take

By: Efua Owusu-Ansah (Ghana)


When my committee nominated me to write the blog for today, I just knew I had to write about this. Sankofa is a Ghanaian word which literally means go back and take, and that is the symbol to depict the word. What am I going back to take? After all I have heard many say this phrase, “Forward ever, backwards never”, “let sleeping dogs lie” and also, “what is done is done”. What is at the back or in history (a minute ago is history) that should I go back and take?

The time came for Averalda to give her presentation on reflection. Boy! or Girl! (smile), did I get the shock of my life when I realised the amount of gold I have thrown away because of the lack of reflection in my life. As a Christian, I have been meditating during my quiet time in the mornings but more than 80% of my meditation, is on what I should do. If, and I say if, I had known how to do reflection as I have been taught, I would have avoided many sleepless nights and pains over the past three decades. Some people do not get the chance that I have to rewrite some of the wrongs and create positive footprints, so I count myself blessed to be part of this 19th ANLP.

Indeed, an unexamined life is not a life worth living. At the end of the day or after an experience, we were taught to ask some really hard questions: What will I continue doing? What will I start doing? What will I stop doing? We are being trained to be our own (amateur as it may be) therapists. To ask the question why, why, why, till we get to the real cause of a feeling or an experience and either be aware of it or deal with it.

There are many ways of documenting reflection. There should always be writing, so that we can always refer back to it.  There can be just writing in words in journals or doodling (one of my aha moments is the knowledge of this word). Doodling is either drawing lines and patterns or buying an already prepared adult colouring book sold in the shops. The patterns are coloured to describe what is being reflected on. Words can be written within the patterns which will explain what I want to continue, start or stop doing from an experience.

We have started writing and doodling from our daily experiences and it has been so fulfilling. Reflections encourage me to identify and better the things I am good at, start doing the good things I am not used to doing and stop the things that are not desirable for the goal I want to achieve in life. I have heard about two experiences of ANLP alumni who feel guilty because they are not able to journal for a period now. We learnt from Averalda that this is fine as long as it doesn’t become a habit. So, what are we to do to ensure the sustainability of this wonderful practice? I believe we should get accountability partners, someone who will remind, inquire and push you if need be to get a hang of this practice, until it becomes our first or second clothing.

Past, present and future ANLP participants, I am using this blog to encourage you to hold on to the core of everything you have learnt or will learn in ANLP; that is reflecting on your knowledge and experience to giving meaning to not only your life, but that of the people surrounding you


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