A part of an American sub-culture that many have not heard about.
I am from the Lowcountry of South Carolina. More specifically, I hail from a barrier island called St. Helena Island. Yet more specifically, my island, Warsaw Island, is even smaller, but is considered to be part of St. Helena Island as a whole. The culture here in this specific area of the country is more that unique to it. See, I am what some folks would refer to as Gullah or on the GA coast it is called Geechie. Gullah was once thought of as merely a dialect, but through the translation of the New Testament from King James’ version to Gullah, a process that took 20 years, it was learned that Gullah has rules and is thus not a dialect, but a language. It is also a culture that still thrives through customs, food and story telling about history to this day. Gullah was derived when slaves were brought over from Africa to coastal SC on various plantations. It must be realized that not all slaves where from the same tribes and regions of Africa so they did not speak the same languages and when placed on the same plantation over time a way to communicate has to evolve and that is Gullah. A hodgepodge of West African languages, English, French and even West Indian influences. St. Helena Island is also home to Penn Center which is the first school for freed slaves after emancipation and was founded by the William Penn, yes, THAT William Penn, the Quaker from Pennslyvania. My paternal grandmother was fortunate enough to have been able to attend that school when she younger. I know that my paternal grandfather from what I knew was born and raised on Warsaw. As was the case with his father, his grandfather and his great grandfather. From what I can tell, that goes right up to about slavery and that is about when the trail goes cold for my family. I think it is absolutely amazing that I can trace my roots back that far on one small specific island and still see how the culture back then still influences my family to this day. My brother contacted African Ancestry and did a DNA test and found that on my father’s side our DNA was almost a 100% match to DNA found in people native to Nigeria. My mother’s side had DNA similar to Fulani, Mandingo and Mende. How accurate is this? I have no idea, but it is indeed knowledge that has an immeasurable amount of value to me and my family. It would be awesome if we could find more about the history of our family as it relates to this country.