How does Sankofa address the theme of Sun-down and Sun-up?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The harsh condition of slavery would represent the film's depiction of the Sun- down theme.  When Mona is taken, temporally changed into Shola,  it is the embodiment of Sun- down.  There is absolute sadness in what she is witnessing in the other slaves' eyes and in their predicament. The bondage in which one human being existed at the hands of another and then how this is turned on her would also represent the Sun- down theme.  Her capture, despite her protestations that she is "American," the ripping of her clothes and the branding of her skin are all moments in which there is little dawning of light on humanity.  This becomes her immersion and the audience's immersion into enslavement, a period in history which would have to be the sun- down theme represented.

The Sun- up quality is interestingly depicted in how Gerima's depiction of resistance to slavery.  The slaves shown on the plantation are not only committed to ending slavery, but seek to broaden this drive to other slaves.  They are driven with resistance and solidarity.  This represents the Sun- up theme because it shows empowerment.  In stark opposition to what was shown in depictions such as Roots, the condition of slavery is shown to be one where human beings' voice is active and potent.  While the institution of slavery sought to make Africans victims, the slaves shown in Gerima's vision are not victimized by slavery.  They are forces of power, seeking to bring down an unjust institution.  Though such a display of power and the call from the opening of the film to "reclaim" one's place in history, the Sun- up theme is evident.