How does Sankofa address the theme of African resistance to slavery?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The theme of resistance can be seen in several distinct parts of the film.  The opening words of the film can be seen as resistance.  The idea of "Spirit of the dead!  Rise up and claim your story," is representative of resistance in so far as slavery is not something to be ignored or forgotten.  Reclamation is an act of resistance in its own right.  The recollection of the past's pain is a reminder that it should never happen again.  It is here in which the film demonstrates resistance from its exposition.  Sankofa's presence in the film is also an act of resistance.  He is extremely intent on educating both Mona and the photographer that their display is disrespectful to the millions who were enslaved at that very spot.  The theme of resistance to slavery is evident here in the idea that history is not something static.  Rather, it is fluid and life teeming with life.  Sankofa's demand that respect be given is an act of resistance, seeking to form solidarity with those who lacked its collective power and redemptive element. 

Naturally, the depiction of slave life as one where rebellion is a real and viable option depicts resistance.  The film does not take a traditional depiction of slavery as isolating, ensuring that the targets of the institution were victims. Rather, the film shows that individuals do have power even in the most dire of conditions.  If Nunu and Shango can demonstrate resistance in their condition, it shows that individuals do have power.  It is in their actions and in Shola's embrace of resistance on the plantation where one sees the strongest display of African resistance to slavery.