What does it mean to be Gullah? I would guess that it means the same as "being" in any other American town, BUT to me it means growing up in Beaufort, SC. It means that you know that eating seafood for breakfast is something all of your neighbors do. It means growing up with friends and family that speak standard American English and Geechie. It also means growing up where you can see the water by standing in the middle of your street or backyard. Hoppin' John is not the nickname of the local wino, but a rice dish. And yes, there will be rice for dinner every day! We have football games on Friday nights, movies on Saturdays, and church on Sundays, except that may sound more like "chotch".
Food, folks, and fun is Gullah to me, and I intend to share it with you. I'd like to invite you to enjoy this blog where you can learn about what makes the Gullah people, my folks, so unique. We eat well. We praise together. We enjoy one another. "And we gonna lay down our lives for the Lord..." (A line from one of my favorite Communion Sunday spirituals, but we'll get to that later.) I'd like to highlight some of our favorite dishes because I'm a foodie and that's what I do. I'll introduce you to some of my favorite people because you can learn so much from people when you take time to know them and to me, networking is fun. AND, speaking of fun, I'm a bit of a cultural nerd so spaces like libraries, museums, churches, and historical sites are cool places to hang out.
Being a griot puts me in a unique position to share my home with you. For those of you who aren't familiar with the term, derived from the West African tradition, a griot is like a storyteller. I didn't even know that I had something to say! But it wasn't until I was asked about Beaufort, that it dawned on me, what I was feeling was pure joy. When I feel passionate about something, I can't help myself and
you’re not going to be able to get me to shut up. So, here we are! I hope you'll indulge me and let me bless you for a short while. When you've been blessed, being a blessing is important. But, enough about me. Let's talk about Beaufort and being Gullah!
Kenyana Harris Briscoe, Gullah Griot
Daughter of Lolita Pazant Harris, One of the founders of the Original Gullah Festival
Granddaughter of Rosalie Frazier Pazant, One of the founders and First President of the Original Gullah Festival