Sankofa Drum and Dance Ensamble was first formed in 1997 from Kofi’s community drum circles in Allentown and Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Members of Sankofa came, and keep comming, from all walks of life and from around the whole tri-state region. Sankofa has played with such nationally known drummers as Babatunde Olatunji, and his Drums of Passion, Mickey Hart, Arthur Hall, Sikiru, and Camara.
The roots of Sankofa o beyond generic and cultural ones. They are the roots of what it means to live as a human being. In the Two language from Asante kingdom in ghana, Sankofa means “going back to the roots”. Literally, Sankofa means it’s not a taboo to go back and correct or make up for mistakes, in values or culutre.
Sankofa’s performances create an atmosphere of an indigenous African village where everyone gets involved. When the drums are played, there is a dialogue between them its like a language, which is complemented by voices raised in call-and-response, where one voice calls out a phrase and other voices answer back with the same phrase a chorus repeated throughout the rhythm. The marriae of polyrythm and chants leads the way for other instruments, like sheakeres, flutes, and xylophones. Dancers complete the performance giving additional meaning to already powerful experience. The close dialogue between all the instruments and performers generates feeling of connectedness and togetherness. The spirit of community, sharing, oneness, joy, peace, and love calls everyone alike, breaking the barriers of race, color, or gender. It breaks the isolation between people and gets the audience involved. At the end of the performance everyone is dancing up a storm!
Kofi not only plays different kinds of drums (kete, arumpan, kpalogo, ashika, djundjun, kenkene, bells, akasa, and djembe) but he also tells stories with his xylophone (gyil) and bamboo flute (atentenben). Some of the rhythms include Amanko – a call to invigorate worriors going to a battle that symbolizes facing and conquering fear, Abgadza – “exodus”, this rhythm and dance tell the story of an ancient West African community (South-Eastern Ghana) that migrated from Nonrthern Africa to West Africa, Fanga -”welcome and thank you”, this is a Liberian rhythm that is often, but not only, used by children who welcome their mother comming from the market with all sorts of goodies.
Sankofa’s appearances are based on promoting diversity in different cultures, apart from Arrican culture. Sankofa is performing at colleges, universities, schools, preschool programs, as well as the community, from conferences, to festivals and fairs. Sankofa is also available for private performances or parties.