Agyeman’s Sankofa Experience

Allows buyers to “Go back  and fetch what you forgot.”

By Tasion Kwamilele

Ellen Ama Agyeman

In Ghana, West Africa, the Ghanaian people are taught to never forget their history and to always pay tribute to their African roots.  Now a U.S. resident, Ellen Ama Agyeman is holding steadfast to those lessons and her downtown store SANKOFA is a testament of that truth.
Sankofa means “go back and fetch what you forgot”
“It is said that during the Atlantic Slave Trade, the birds would follow the slave ships but after a certain point they wouldn’t fly. Instead, the birds would fly back to Africa. That is where the Sankofa bird and ideology comes from and that is what my store is all about,” said Agyeman.
Agyeman’s family already owns a business in Ghana, so when she moved to the United States in the earlier 90’s, she felt the need to keep the family tradition alive.   In 1996, she began selling her items at the Ashby flea market and soon moved to a store in Albany on Solano Avenue. As her business continued to flourish, she moved to 9th and Washington before finally settling at her current location in downtown Oakland, 120 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza.
“This is something that I enjoy doing. It has been a part of my family for a long time,” said Agyeman.
SANKOFA specializes in African art and jewelry.  From African masks, drums, authentic mud cloth and fabrics, purses, wood carvings, oils, incense, and jewelry pieces, SANKOFA is a perfect place to purchase one of a kind holiday gifts.
“From my beautiful jewelry to my shawls and art work, all of my products are one of a kind,” said Agyeman. “Right now the entire store has discounted items up to 50% off.”
Agyeman is committed to showcasing, teaching, and reminding the Bay Area community about the strength and beauty of African culture.  Though she currently lives in the Bay Area with her older sister, her husband and her twelve year old daughter, she frequently returns to Ghana to visit her family and pay homage to her native land.
“It is extremely important and it means a lot to never forget your roots,” added Agyeman.
For more information, visit or visit the store Monday-Friday between the hours of 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

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