Celebrate the Gullah/Geechee Living Legacy on Historic St. Helena Island, SC at the Gullah/Geechee Nation International Music & Movement Festival
Celebrate the Gullah/Geechee Living Legacy on Historic St. Helena Island, SC
“Fa We Ancestas” is the theme of the 2017 “Gullah/Geechee Nation International Music & Movement Festival™.” This festival began on historic St. Helena Island, SC in the Gullah/Geechee Nation in 2005 and has since traveled to numerous cities of the Gullah/Geechee Nation as well as to the Bahamas. This year’s return to St. Helena Island will be a celebration of the rich living culture of the island and Beaufort County.
The three day celebration August 4-6, 2017 will educate the supporters through a series of cultural heritage activities beginning with “De Gullah Root Experience Tour” led by Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation (www.QueenQuet.com). This tour will encompass St. Helena Island and the City of Beaufort. The journey will begin at the landmark historic St. Helena Branch Library where featured artist for the year, Sonja Griffin Evans’ “American Gullah” will be exhibited. Those that participate in the “Gullah/Geechee Nation Appreciation Week” activities from July 29th to the end of the festival will not only get to view this exhibition, but they will have an opportunity to dialogue with the artist on Saturday, August 5, 2017 as part of the “Gullah/Geechee Reunion Day” at the festival.
Sonja Griffin Evans’ “American Gullah” Collection reflects compassion and redeeming love. It gives a visual example of one’s humanity. It immortalizes the divinity, an expression of the soul. It brings to life, through art, the Gullah/Geechee story; while instilling in the viewer’s heart a yearning to visit the amazingly beautiful, historical and spiritual destinations which encompasses the Gullah/Geechee culture. So, that is why the festival will begin with the visitors partaking this collection before proceeding out to the lands where the culture continues to thrive.
After the tour, participants get an opportunity to dine on traditional Gullah/Geechee cuisine prepared by the chefs of “MJ’s Soul Food” while dancing the night away. The “Party with a Purpose Juke Joint Jam” will be held at this restaurant on Sea Island Parkway on St. Helena Island beginning at 7 pm. It will be a grown folks party mixed by DJ Kwame Sha. During the evening, everyone will be able to engage with several of the featured artists that will take the main stage on Saturday.
Saturday the St. Helena Island Community Market which will be the site of the “Gullah/Geechee Living Marketplace” opens at 10 am at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park. Crafts, clothing, CDs, books, and cuisine will all be sold there. There will also be activities for the youths and intergenerational fun including music and dancing.
The main stage opens at the St. Helena Island Branch Library at Noon with a drum call led by Wona Womalan African dancing and drumming troupe. The day will be filled with Gullah/Geechee dramatic presentations including one by Dayclean the African Spirit, one by actor and re-enactor, Ernest Parks, and will culminate with the soul filled sounds of songstress GwenYvette and TK Soul. GwenYvette will present new music from her recently released CD, “Love, Dreams, and Visions.”
Saturday will also provide an opportunity for people to engage in learning about Gullah/Geechee sweetgrass traditions as Anastatia Ketchens and Gregory Grant present a workshop inside the Gullah/Geechee Room which is a research room at the library. This year the festival is focused on raising funds to help the St. Helena Branch Library expand its Gullah/Geechee Collection and to support the digitization of the “Gullah/Geechee Alkebulan Archive” which is the ONLY archive in the world totally dedicated to Gullah/Geechee history, heritage, and culture. These two entities collaborate to present the “Gullah/Geechee Living History Series” at the library throughout the year.
The internationally recognized Gullah/Geechee culture came about due to the amalgamation of numerous African ethnicities, traditions, languages, and spiritual practices. The Gullah/Geechee Nation has been fully participating in the United Nations’ International Decade of People of African Descent and to that end, the leaders of the Gullah/Geechee Nation are inviting the entire African Diaspora to come together and bring drums and tambourines to the festival. In order to honor those that held on to their traditions that have evolved into the Gullah/Geechee culture, an ancestral ceremony will be held at the Atlantic Ocean on Hunting Island, SC to conclude the entire weekend on Sunday, August 6, 2017.
Brings chairs, drums, and an open spirit! E gwine be a time! Disya fa we ancestas!
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