Middle Passage Month Comes in Like a Storm in the Gullah/Geechee Nation

by Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation (www.QueenQuet.com)

Throughout the year, the leaders of the Gullah/Geechee Nation honor our ancestral legacy through libation ceremonies and the transference of cultural knowledge.  In September of each year, we specifically focus our energy on the arrival of our African ancestors on the Sea Islands of the Gullah/Geechee Nation  via the Middle Passage.  September is “Middle Passage Month” in the Gullah/Geechee Nation.  We tell the stories of the horrors of the crime against humanity that chattel slavery was and the strength and triumph of our Gullah/Geechee ancestors that survived this journey and then dripped their blood, sweat, and tears into this soil as the nurturing agent that brought forth a mighty people that continue to endure hardships and thrive and prosper like “the tree planted by the rivers of the waters.”

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As Middle Passage Month came in like a storm this year, hurricane and tropical storm breezes pushed the waters up along the Atlantic seabaord of the Gullah/Geechee Nation‘s coast.  As the storm raged I could hear Gil Scott singing, “Rivers of My Fathers” and I could feel my soul repeating the dances that I had done to this song so many times before.  I made it home as the drops of rain started to fall against the windshield of my vehicle.  I made it home to my mother’s porch where the entire family ended up gathering when suddenly the trees swayed and started to fall and the transformers exploded leaving the island without lights.

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We sat out in the sunlight while darkness was inside the house and I thought of the time that we were aboard the Amistad and there was utter darkness within the hull of the ship and only one stream of light shined in from above as if that was GOD telling us where to focus.  We had to look up to see the source of the light.  I walked off the porch out into the breeze several times between the swirls of rain that came and I looked up.  I gave thanks that my family was together, safe, and reminiscing.  I gave thanks for my ancestors that no doubt had weathered storms on this same land in this same place together.  I gave thanks to GOD for realizing that we were brought together again at such a time as this and that we could calmly enjoy one another knowing “this too shall pass.”  I looked up and I listened.

I wondered if in the midst of the Middle Passage any of our ancestors sat or laid in faith knowing that “this too shall pass” or did they weep, did they mourn,  did they fight, did they plot.  The Spirit said, “They did this all and some died.”   I then saw the bodies that were thrown over board just as a tree was pushed by the wind in a manner that resemble something being swung and I could see two people throwing another into the ocean.  I could visualize the shoreline with bodies strewn about that had washed up onto the land the way that the waters were washing up right now in the midst of this storm.  I prayed that their spirits were now at peace.  I prayed that our libations made them under and overstand that we have not forgotten who they are and all that they went through.  Their lives were not in vain.

I went back onto the porch and in seconds the rain came back again and I saw this as GOD’s libation.  I saw this as GOD’s cleansing of the earth once again.  I saw the images of how this and every one of these hurricanes began off the coast of the Motherland.  I could hear her speaking to her children of the diaspora including those here in the Gullah/Geechee Nation reminding us of the pain she felt due to the loss of her children.  She wants us to continue to remember their journey.  She wants us to continue to remember what is valuable and what they brought to where they were taken-strength, faith, and treasuring family.

I sat their and appreciated the sunshine and when the evening came, I appreciated lighting lanterns and candles the way my ancestors and elders used to do.  Several of us remembered how we had to do homework by such lighting.  We gave thanks together for how far we’ve come and all that we have as I placed one lantern on top of the TV that could not function because the electricity still had not come on.  We sat together close in a circle in the living room and even as the sun went down and the small fire flickered, we could see one another. In that moment, I realized that the light was shining in on us here too, but that light wasn’t from an opening in the ceiling, but it was a light from above.  It was the spiritual light from within each of us that were in this one family and with it combined in this one space at Mama’s house it was bright enough that we could all see and as we can see, we can journey, and we are at peace together.  I realized then how Mama Africa had sent that light into the hulls of those spaces as her children were forced across the Middle Passage to bring this energy to these shores.  I realized how GOD lifted the heads and eyes of our ancestors to cause them to always look up to find that light that would energize and strengthen them.

I realized that this storm was a blessing.  Middle Passage Month needed to storm in to shake us, wake us, make us step back in time for a minute, and remember.  Remember the journey and pull on the strength and keep gwine on Gullah/Geechee chillun.  Keep gwine on!

 

 

4 Comments

  1. Mary Sullivan

    I did not know about Middle Passage Month. What a powerful time and I honor your celebration and remembrance.

    Mary Sullivan (a Com-Ya only since 2001) Hilton Head Island

  2. Evelyn Murray

    What reading material would you suggest for reading, that the Gullah Geechee have written or one from Africa?

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