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The Gullah/Geechee people are descendents of Africans who were slaves on the rice, indigo and sea island cotton plantations in the lower Atlantic coast in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
Many of these slaves came from the rice growing region of West Africa. They created a unique culture with African retentions that are visible in the Gullah/Geechee people’s distinctive arts, crafts, foods, music and language. They preserved more of their African linguistic and cultural heritage than any other African American community in the U.S.
Deeply rooted in music traditions brought by enslaved Africans, their music evolved out of the conditions of slavery. The musical forms that rose out of Gullah music can be heard in spirituals and gospel music, ragtime, R&B, soul, hip hop and jazz.
Foods imported from Africa during the slave trade include okra, rice, yams, peas, hot peppers, peanuts, benne seeds, sorghum and watermelons. Africa cooking methods ad seasonings were applied in Gullah homes and plantation kitchens.
The Original Gullah Festival is coming to Beaufort’s Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park on May 27, 28 and 29, 2023. They will be celebrating their Gullah Roots.
Storytelling, dancing, blues, reggae, jazz and African drums are some of the things you’ll see and hear at the Gullah Festival. There’s a Vendor Market with Arts & Crafts. The Food Court will feature local cuisine and traditional Gullah favorite foods. “Lest We Forget” and “The Decoration Day Play” are educational where they teach and preserve history.
Festival activities and entertainment include
- Sweetgrass Basket Weaving Workshop
- “Gullah Roots” with Gullah Mini Film Festival
- High School Band & “Funkline” Drumline
- Gullah Art Embellishment Workshop
- Mufukaworks Dance Company
- Gullah Geechee Ring Shouters
- Wade Johnson & Pride Ensemble Band
- Percussion (Drum) Making Workshop
- Gullah Historical Reenactment Group
- Paris Island Marine Band – “Dirty Boots Brass Band” Concert
- Devin Smalls – Gospel Meme
- Gullah Geechee/African American Quilt Making
- Battery Creek High School Band
- Royal Drummers & Dancers from Sierra Leone, West Africa
- Voices of de Gullah People Singers
- Doug Whitaker & Modern Daze Band
- Gullah She’ke’re Musical Instrument Making Workshop
- Quinton Smalls – Gullah rapper
- Soweto Street Beat South African Dance Theater
All that and more can be found at the Original Gullah Festival in Beaufort!
If you liked the food at the festival and you would like to learn more about Gullah cooking, try these cookbooks. And use our links to see how you can save money on each one.
- Gullah Home Cooking the Daufuskie Way: See Island Favorites by Sallie Ann Robinson ad Gregory Wrenn Smith
- Bress ‘n’ Nyam: Gullah Geechee Recipes from a Sixth Generation Farmer by Matthew Raiford and Amy Paige Condon
- The Gullah Geeche Cookbook: 365 Days of Traditional Grandma’s Recipes Rich In History & Flavor by Adeve Kimathi
- Gullah Geechee Home Cooking: Recipes from the Matriarch of Edisto Island by Emily Meggett and Clay Williams
If you’d like to visit Beaufort for the Original Gullah Festival, you should consider the following hotels. They are near the festival and are offering discounted rates which can save you money on your stay.