Sankofa by Chinbundu Onuzo

The word “Sankofa ” was coined by the Akan people of Ghana, which means “retrieve.” Sankofa means to retrieve memories of the past to make positive progress in the future (don’t you just love reading? You get to learn new things in every book you pick up).

Anna Graham is in her late forties when she finds a journal in her late mother’s belongings. A journal that belongs to Francis Aggrey – the father she never met. She uncovers a shocking truth about who her father is and also that he is alive and resides in a small country in West Africa.  Leaving her unresolved issues with her husband and daughter, she journeys to West Africa to find her father and understand her roots. Would her father and his household accept her?

This was an intriguing read, and the author kept building tension within me with every chapter. Although the main character’s naivety might irritate you, it is a book worth the read. Anna, as a character, signifies the difficulties in finding a place in society when you are a half-caste. I also understand that the absence of a father and a home filled with love sometimes make your child grow up to make poor relationship decisions.

The book covers themes such as racism, politics in the pre and post-colonial era in Africa, Identity crisis, infidelity, the slave trade, and the importance of knowing one’s roots. I also enjoyed the representation of our African tradition. It shows that no matter how foreign we want to be, we should never wholly throw away our traditional values.

Reading this book brought my attention to so many things. Firstly, a scene made me realize that the Europeans carried our beautiful artifacts to a foreign land where they are currently not appreciated or understood.

Secondly, to make eggs, you have to break them first, which means to be great, you sometimes have to make a couple of decisions you might later not be proud of.

Thirdly, a lot of people walk around unaware that the reason why they make poor decisions is because of an identity crisis existing within them.

Finally, never overlook psychological patterns. Anna only married Robert because she lacked a picture-perfect family. She ended up sacrificing her career for a man that should have just been her friend. Rose also turned out the way she did because she wanted to be the complete opposite of her mother and grandmother.

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