Tag Archives: Gullah-Geechee Culture

Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters at the Gathering, Riceboro

I drove down to Riceboro yesterday to see the wonderful work Jim Bacote (above, right) has done with Geechee Kunda and to check out his Gathering, an annual celebration of Geechee and Gullah folkways. Jim is passionate about preserving this history and it’s tangible. Geechee Kunda is the culmination of his lifelong fascination with this endangered way of life. I first met him a couple of years ago when he was still working on his museum and history center so I didn’t get to make any photographs. He invited me to come back and  I’m so glad I finally got to see it yesterday.

The highlight for me was a performance by the Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters (not to be confused with the McIntosh County Shouters, who organized about a decade before the Geechee Gullah). This group of dedicated men and women share the ring shout with the world and aim for authenticity. They’re historic interpreters of the highest order and preserve a tradition that was thought to be extinct as recently as 1980. Historians believe the ring shout is the oldest surviving African performance tradition in North America. While “shouting” in the vocal sense is a part of the performance, linguist Lorenzo Dow Turner, who spent a lifetime researching the Gullah language and culture, suggested that the term came from the Afro-Arabic word saut. This is a reference to the forward-moving shuffle, during which the feet are not to cross, associated with pilgrimages to the Kabaa at Mecca.

It’s hard not to come away from a performance by the Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters with a better understanding of a culture that, especially as white Southerners, we have kept at a distance at best or dismissed altogether at worst.

One thing you’ll quickly notice when you’re around the Shouters is their charisma. They’re very passionate about what they’re doing and you can feel it. You not only learn but you’re uplifted, as well.

In 2011, the Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters set the Guinness World Record for leading the largest recorded ring shout, during the “Word, Shout, Song” exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum in Washington, D. C.

Besides the world record ring shout, the group is also proud to have among their performers Mrs. Butler (above, right), who at 90 is the world’s oldest living ring shouter. She’s amazing.

At the end of the performance, a narrative of Emancipation is re-enacted and is quite powerful. If you couldn’t already tell, I was very moved by these living historians and would encourage anyone who has the opportunity to attend one of their events.

 

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Traditional Architecture, Hog Hammock

Sapelo Island GA Hog Hammock Community Abandoned Vernacular House Picture Image Photograph © Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2013

This is among the older and more traditional housing styles in the Hog Hammock community.

Hog Hammock Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under -MCINTOSH COUNTY, Hog Hammock GA, Sapelo Island GA

Julius Green House, Hog Hammock

Hog Hammock GA Sapelo Island Vernacular House with Screened In Front Porch Oak Trees Spanish Moss Picture Image Photograph © Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2013

Hog Hammock Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Mary Parker House, Hog Hammock

Mary Parker House Hog Hammock GA Sapelo Island Historic Gullah Geechee Community Endangered Picture Image Photograph © Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2013

Hog Hammock Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Sapelo Orange Grove, Hog Hammock

Sapelo Island GA Orange Grove Sign Picture Image Photograph © Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2013

Hog Hammock Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under -MCINTOSH COUNTY, Hog Hammock GA, Sapelo Island GA

First African Baptist Church at Raccoon Bluff, 1900, Sapelo Island

Sapelo Island GA First African Baptist Church at Raccoon Bluff National Register Landmark Picture Image Photograph © Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2013

Established by freedmen on Sapelo Island the year after the Civil War ended, the congregation at Raccoon Bluff built the present structure from lumber that washed ashore after the hurricane of 1898. Abandoned from 1968 until 2000, it was restored through efforts of the Sapelo Island Cultural and Revitalization Society, the state of Georgia, and student from the Savannah College of Art & Design. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and its restoration represents one of the most significant efforts to preserve African-American history in Georgia, more importantly a tangible link to the Geechee-Gullah culture of the Sea Islands.

Sapelo Island GA First African Baptist Church at Raccoon Bluff National Register Landmark Sign Picture Image Photograph © Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2013

Sapelo Island GA First African Baptist Church at Raccoon Bluff National Register Landmark Dinner on the Grounds Tables Picture Image Photograph © Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2013

The congregation moved into its current home, in Hog Hammock, during the 1960s. Follow the link for an image:

https://vanishingcoastalgeorgia.com/2012/09/18/first-african-baptist-church-2/

National Register of Historic Places

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Walker House & Garden, Hog Hammock

Hog Hammock GA Sapelo Island Abandoned Truck Station Wagon Clapboard House Ernest Walker's House Picture Image Photograph © Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2013

Old cars are a common sight in Hog Hammock. Due to the difficulty and cost in removing them from the island, they are frequently encountered. On my visits with a part-time resident, I’ve ridden in a wide variety of “gently used” vehicles. Gently used is putting it kindly.

The image below illustrates what’s left of Mr. Ernest Walker’s fall garden, who was working hard to remove weeds the day before so he could plant his summer crops. The people of Hog Hammock are very self-sufficient and I have great respect for that; when I visited the day before with my friend who lives nearby, I learned that Mr. Walker is legally blind.

Hog Hammock GA Sapelo Island Ernest Walker's Garden Greens Picture Image Photograph © Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2013

Hog Hammock Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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