Black Ancestors : Gullah and the Sea Islands

cherryblossom

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Gullah Language & Culture

The Gullah language, a Creole blend of Elizabethan English and African languages, was born of necessity on Africa's slave coast, and developed in the slave communities of the isolated plantations of the coastal South. Even after the sea islands were freed in 1861, the Gullah speech flourished because access to the islands was by water only until the 1950's. Today, one hears phrases like

Come Jine We.
Ketch ob de Day
Lok Ya Wantem Shrimps

But, Gullah is more than a language or dialect.........
................it is a culture.

Thousands of enslaved Africans survived the middle passage to reach the sea island shores. The majority of the slaves, 40,000, came from a section of Africa known as Angola. With the people --Mende, Kisi, Malinke, and Bantu-- came the soul of Africa. Their ancestral traditions survived as well. The words "Gullah" and "Geechee" have come to describe that legacy....."


http://www.coastalguide.com/gullah/
 

cherryblossom

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The language of the Sea Islands

"Mus tek cyear a de root fa heal de tree." - Gullah proverb [You need to take care of the root in order to heal the tree.]

The origin of the Gullah language is as unique as the cadence and rhythm of its sound. Slaves from the Sea Islands of South Carolina and northern Georgia were brought to America largely from different communities on the Rice Coast of West Africa. Therefore many spoke similar but distinctive languages, and in order to communicate with each other and with their owners, they combined the similarities with the English they learned to form the unique Gullah language. This process of combining different languages is called "creolization."

For years, linguists referred to the Gullah, or Geechee, language as a dialect of standard English. But in the 1940s, as African-American linguist Lorenzo Turner researched African languages, it became apparent that Gullah did indeed have its roots in Africa. According to Turner, the most noted similarities between Gullah and the languages spoken in West Africa include the use of nouns, pronouns, verbs, and tense. Almost all Gullah nouns are singular, and no distinction is made between singular or plural verbs either. These charactertistics are the same in many African languages. Also, Gullah and various African languages rarely account for when something actually happened - the present verb tense is also often used to refer to the past...."

http://www.islandpacket.com/man/gullah/language.html
 

cherryblossom

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Feb 28, 2009
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Sweetgrass Baskets

"..a tradition brought from West Africa by slaves. Coiled sea grass basketry has survived in America for 300 years, and sweetgrass baskets now are recognized as an art form....


...The African-American art of basket making dates from the 1700s, when baskets first were used in rice cultivation.....

Fanner baskets were wide winnowing trays used to throw threshed and pounded rice into the air, allowing the wind to blow away the chaff.

Early baskets were made of bulrush, an abundant marsh grass, but sweetgrass became the weavers' preferred material around the turn of the century.

In the early 1900s, a group of black families from Mount Pleasant began mass producing and selling "show baskets" made of sweetgrass. The community remains the center of modern-day basket making.

Originally, basket makers were men. Now most weavers are women...."

http://www.islandpacket.com/man/gullah/weavers.html
 

Clyde C Coger Jr

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In the Spirit of Sankofa!

Gullah and the Sea Islands

Gullah Language & Culture




sister cherryblossom,

Thank you for clearing up my otherwise distorted understanding of the term Geechee. To now know that Gullah is deeply connected to Geechee, and not so much the state of Louisiana, lol, also provides better insight with full understanding.

Again, the wealth of information you submitted led me to research out the Gantt Cottage that became home to Martin Luther King, Jr. during the many annual meetings held at Penn Center or Penn School of the SCLC …Peace In my sister friend.

 

cherryblossom

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Feb 28, 2009
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No problem, Bro. Clyde.


We do have to preserve and spread our stories.


My mother's family is from that region/area of GA.

I don't know that I have any "Geechee" in me, but I might!
 
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