Gullah/Geechee Linking Good Friday and Passover

Several years ago, Afroculinary specialist and expert, Michael Twitty joined us in celebration on St. Helena Island, SC in the Gullah/Geechee Nation. He was in the process of completing his book entitled “The Cooking Gene” which takes people on a journey into the pots of the kitchens and yards of our ancestors. So, it was great to hear from Michael who is Jewish just in time for Passover which begins on “Good Friday.” The rituals for both of these spiritual events differ however. Most Christians celebrate Good Friday in preparation for Resurrection Sunday and interestingly enough, while doing so many forget that Jesus was Hebrew / Jewish.

The message from Michael immediately brought back to mind what Elder Carlie Towne and I shared with the flimmaker of Re-Emerging: The Jews of Nigeria concerning the types of “rituals” and traditions practiced in the Gullah/Geechee Nation that may appear to some as residuals of our Igbo lineage and appear to others as evidence of our Hebrew / Judaic lineage and cultural continuations.

I give thanks for the work that Michael does through Afroculinaria.com to educate people and truly engage them in multiculturalism. So, I greatly appreciate having received his message and having had the opportunity to contribute not only to his site, but to the Holy Day by assisting in translating something that is part of the sacred rituals of today-the sedar plate.

On the first and second nights of Passover, those that practice orthodox Judaism spend the evening recounting the story of the redemption of the children of Israel from Egypt or Kemet. The ritual includes the customs around the exodus and a special meal called “the seder.” The centerpiece of the seder is the seder plate, which contains six different items of symbolic significance to the story of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt or Kemet. In the case of people of African descent in America including Gullah/Geechees, Michael has offered a variation on what others tend to include on the sedar plate:

Sedar translations by Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation
www.QueenQuet.com

Each component of the sedar plate represents a link to the past. The traditional seder plate is said to come together to serve as a multi-faceted reminder of both the Jewish people’s years in slavery and their subsequent redemption. People of African descent used the story of Exodus to also encourage self-emancipation during chattel enslavement especially in the Gullah/Geechee Nation where to this day, major meals take place on Resurrection Sunday in celebration of spiritual redemption. However, we are yet seeking the true redemption that total freedom brings. So, may the meals remind us of what our ancestors went through and all that we need to do to achieve total freedom today.

Shalom,

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

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