Gullah refers to the West African culture that has been around since slavery in one form or another for the past few centuries. People can visit the Sea Islands in both North and South Carolina to learn more about West African customs, art, and belief systems. You’ll find a variety of tours that will show you everything you want to see and more. If you’re visiting one of the popular islands in this area, such as Hilton Head, you can find out more about this vibrant culture as well as its influence on American language and customs today. Use these tips to get the most out of your visit.
- Go with a Guide
As much as you may think, do you need a car in New York, you actually do need a tour guide to teach you more about these heritage sites. They are your first step to truly understanding how slaves coped with their circumstances, and how they could keep their culture and hope alive in the face of unspeakable horrors. It’s a story of the resilience of the human spirit, a resilience that was often captured in dances, art, and songs or chants. A guide will be able to answer your questions, and point out the significance of each item from the past. But while this culture may have been strongest in the past, it is most certainly not left there. Gullah has been the best preserved of any African culture today. The more we remember what has shaped our country, the more we understand how to move forward.
A good guide will take you through everything you’d want to see. They may not teach you the same laws and lessons a defensive driving course does, but they’ll be able to teach you how people spoke, and they won’t shy away from topics that are likely to make everyone uncomfortable. When it comes to this sensitive topic, it helps to understand the reality rather than trying to gloss over the brutal truths that are hard to face. The culture of the time was very different than the culture of today, and it helps to know those differences to see the changes that have been made since then.
- Use Your Words
Words are our first step to communicating what we want, and it helps to know just how those words were formed. Creole is a language that combines two different vocabularies together from two separate languages. Much of the version you’ll find in Gullah contains words loaned from Africa. It’s an effective way to see the link between what we say today, and what was said yesterday. Words like yam, okra, and even mojo may all have roots in the West African languages of the past. There’s also a rhythm in the cadence of your words that you’ll have to master if you really want to communicate correctly.
- Ask Questions
The tours are what you make of them, and it’s ok to concentrate on one part of the culture more than others. If you’re interested in dance, then you can learn more about how they used their bodies to tell stories, entertain, and even work through the complicated emotions of life in North and South Carolina. If you’re interested in religion, you may want to find out more about how they prayed and who they prayed to. The more you’re interested in the details of it all, the more likely it is you’ll take a valuable lesson from the experience. Instead of just passing by exhibit after exhibit, concentrate on something you find fascinating, and let yourself be carried away in the history of it all.