Monday, November 19, 2012

The Culture and Tradition of The Geechee-Gullah People, and How It's Coming to an End.



Geechee-Gullah islanders have created some of the most profitable plantations in the American industry in the coastal regions of Southeast America with their rice fields, from as far south as Florida and as far north as North Carolina. They have also inserted and established themselves as vital fixtures in United States history, while continually practicing ethnic traditions from West Africa since they arrived in the mid-1700s.

Today, the culture and tradition of the Geechee-Gullah people is beginning to fade away, due to modern encroachments on land and vital resources. But their cultural traditions still live strong for the time being, and teach that every life lesson is essential to learning, even while having fun.
  
William S. Pollitzer writes, "Readers will learn of the indigo and rice growing skills that slaves taught to their masters, the echoes of an African past that are hand-wrought into baskets and made known through family quilts, the forms and phrasings that identify characteristics of Gullah speech."

Building a culture requires values; the culture and tradition of the Geechee-Gullah people are reflected in their daily lives and activities. Weaving is a way for children to hone their skills for society and integrate themselves into the culture and tradition of Geechee-Gullah life.
 
Folklore and storytelling are used, effectively, to convey life lessons to impressionable children. In Joel Chandler Harris's book "Brer Rabbit and the Tar-Baby", young readers are taught a valuable lesson about life choices, risks and decisions. In the well-known tale, Brer Rabbit will approach the Tar Baby, try to socialize with the inanimate figure and then respond violently by striking the Tar Baby. By doing so, Brer Rabbit falls right into the trap set by Brer Fox.

The culture and tradition of the Geechee-Gullah people also incorporate song and dance as a way to provide fun, recreation,spiritual development and moral advancement to children. In the movie, "Tales From The Land Of Gullah For Kids", by Clark Santee and Anita Singleton-Prather and the Gullah Kinfolk--a contemporary work--lyrics from well known songs are recited and passed down from generation to generation, like Kumbayah and many others. These songs reflect the spiritual values and expectations of community whilst fostering a reverence for God.

Festivals and events reinforce many popular African traditions, and provide the type of exuberant events that kids love. Festivals are held in at least five states across the southeastern seaboard, such as the Winyah Bay Festival in South Carolina and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Remembrance in Georgia. These fun-filled festivals serve as valuable reinforcements of the culture and tradition of the Geechee-Gullah people, and are  centered around positive recreation as well as music, dance, folklore and more.

Unfortunately, the culture and tradition of the Geechee-Gullah people may soon come to an end. On
June 8, 2001, Dahleen Glanton, of the Chicago Tribune, reported that federal officials conceded to their "inabilty" to protect theses cultures from the ensuing land encroachment.

Since the government already owns approximately 97 percent of the land where the islanders reside, it seems like they may be satisfied, and tolerate the inhabitants of tiny islands, like the residents of Sapelo Island Ga., but apparently not. As of late this year, the government says that it will increase taxes on the 50 or so residents of Sapelo Island by 540 percent. 

The feds have already warned us that we should expect to see such increases in the remaining three percent of areas that are inhabited by the Geechee and Gullah people. It seems that three or four hundred dollars a year isn't enough; taxes will be raised to two or three thousand dollars per year for the small houses on the island with tin roofs, and the government's insatiable quest for land and resources will drive the culture and tradition of the Geechee-Gullah people into oblivion.


In Geechee-Gullah culture, folklore heavily influences their sense of moral responsibility. Song and dance are intertwined with religious traditions reaching back to ancient African roots,so if song, dance, storytelling, spirituality and prose are the cornerstones of successful Geechee and Gullah cultures, then the dominance, indignation and greed perpetrated on the world by America  is the equivalent of  Brer Rabbit's ambition to beat up the Tar Baby. It seems like imperialist America stands to gain nothing more from the Geechee-Gullah people, so it's time for them to leave the land that they have cultivated for hundreds of years.

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