The African Tribe in the US who Preserve Customs with Animal Tales and Basket Weaving

Stephen Nartey September 15, 2022
Gullah/Geechee people/Photo credit: gullahgeechee corridor

Gullah/Geechee community of South Carolina are one indigenous Africa Americans who are noted to have preserved their cultural heritage more than any black American groupings.

In the coastal parts of the South Carolina, they are set apart by their collective ties and authentic cultural identity.

After slavery was abolished, the migrated to their present settlement and began putting up their cottages in remote covers.

They are believed to have originated from enslaved West Africans brought into the United States in the 1700s. They worked in rice, cotton and indigo plantations along the South Carolina-Georgia seaboard where the land was favourable for cultivation of such plants.  

Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee community, Queen Quet, told CNN that despite migrating after gaining their freedom, they did not lose a sense of their cultural identity of living together.

She said they found strength in their communal way of doing and that how they have preserved the ways of their ancestors which was handed over to them generation from generation.

Queen Quet said if she was asked to describe the bond that exists among the Gullah/Geechee people she would say it’s like a tightly knit cast net sewn together.

Despite the growing influence of technology and modernization, the Gullah/Geechee people have maintained key aspects of traditions that identifies them.

This lies in the art of basket weaving, fishing oysters and shrimps to survive and their language.

The Chieftess said maintaining these ways of life is their own way of honouring their ancestors who practiced these customs centuries ago.

She said that is why the English language they speak is distinct, adding that creole is a vernacular associated with the Gullah/Geechee people.

This dialect was a traditional expressive way which is linked to their West African ancestry, according to Professor Salikoko S. Mufwene, of the department of linguistics at the University of Chicago.

He explained that it is English language that has been adapted to suit influences of Africa way of language appreciation and expression.

Another characteristic of the Gullah/Geechee people is their connection with their homage. Professor Mufwene observed that despite the modern trappings of luxury in New York and Washington, many often feel nostalgic and return to Gullah/Geechee after working several years.

He said the Gullah/Geechee people have been able to maintain their roots and could possibly be the black American tribe with highest retention of its cultural identity.   

He added that Gullah/Geechee people have different tastes when it comes to food and this largely informs how they cook and how they interact when they are out of their community.

Another feature that is holding the Gullah/Geechee people are tales that shared with among them while growing up.

Professor Mufwene said they have kept animal tales which share same characters with those told in African societies.

The communities may be different, but, the themes and lessons of these tales are no different from the African ones.

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