Sankofa is the official Black Student Union of UIS. 

Mission statement

Sankofa seeks to provide enlightenment of black culture through educational, cultural, and social events and activities.

Meaning of the Sankofa bird

The concept of “Sankofa” is derived from King Adinkera of the Akan people of West Africa. “Sankofa” is expressed in the Akan language as “se wo were fi na wosan kofa a yenki.” Literally translated, this means “it is not taboo to go back and fetch what you forgot”.

“Sankofa” teaches us that we must go back to our roots in order to move forward. That is, we should reach back and gather the best of what our past has to teach us, so that we can achieve our full potential as we move forward. Whatever we have lost, forgotten, forgone, or been stripped of can be reclaimed, revived, preserved, and perpetuated.

Visually and symbolically, “Sankofa” is expressed as a mythic bird that flies forward while looking backward with an egg (symbolizing the future) in its mouth. This ties with our motto: “In order to understand our present and ensure our future, we must know our past.”


Sankofa members have participated in the following activities:

  • Community service projects with local elementary and high schools,
  • The annual Diversity Retreat,
  • World AIDS day,
  • The Involvement Expo,
  • The University of Illinois Student Leadership Retreat,
  • The Darfur Fast, and
  • The Hip-Hop Symposium.