September 18th 2009
The History of Gullah and Geechee Culture
The Gullah culture started with the transportation of African slaves to the Sea Islands of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. The Sea Islands served as an excellent location for the Gullah culture because of its separation from the mainland. The African slaves, who came from different regions in African, brought with them their language, culture and traditions. Collectively these traditions and languages have merged into one to form Gullah. The Gullah culture has survived over the years by Gullah elders passing down the language and traditions to their children. However, over the past fifty years the Gullah culture has started to die. Three significant factors are the development of resorts along the Sea Islands, the movement of Gullah descendants to larger cities, in search of employment and the education of Gullah descendants. The later of the factors has severely damaged the Gullah culture. As the Gullah people are becoming educated, they are taught that it is no longer acceptable to speak “broken-English”. However the Gullah language is more than just “broken-English”. It is a art form that serves as the link between Africans and African-Americans. Gullah is a mixture of Elizabethan English (16th and 17th century) and a mixture of various African dialects including: Via, Mende, Twi, Ewe, Hausa, Yoruba, Ibo, Kikongo. In Gullah one word can express several thoughts. Ex. “e”- he, she or it and “shum” - see, saw, hi, her, it or them. Pure Gullah is hardly heard anymore. As each generation passes, more and more of the Gullah history is lost. The Gullah that you see posted on the Internet and in the books is a simplified version of Gullah. It has been said that one can hear the ruffling of the marsh grass and the sound of the water beating across the shores in the rhythms of Gullah. When heard talking Gullah speakers are often compared to Jamaicans. Gullah is dubbed as a...
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