E bin a bless up time een Williamsburg County, SC fa de fuss proclamation fa “Gullah/Geechee Nation Appreciation Week” ya! Hunnuh kno sey hunnuh dey wid famlee win e git hunnuh scrate bout wha hunnuh crak ya teet bout tuh ya. Mi sey I bin dey two time and council memba lemme kno sey e bin shree! I say, “Win de fuss time bin den?” E say, “Memba C E Murray?” I say, “Da bin long time bak! I thought—” Den alltwo man say, “E bin een Berkeley County eny?” I say, “Fa sho!” We laugh! Ain no love lost!
Love truly was not lost in Williamsburg County! In fact, each time that I have been there, I found more and more love from the community and for Gullah/Geechee culture. What I thought was my second trip to the county turned out to be my third which makes sense since the adage says, “Three is a charm!”
I was first charmed by the dialogues at the Williamsburg Farmers’ Market when I met Mr. Fleming and his wife and daughter. While we chatted about having to dodge these deers in our fields this year and shared on how we keep our sweet potato seeds each season, folks started showing up and saying that they recognize me. We all talked about how Gullah/Geechees have to work together and support each other and even reminisced about old times and the coming time we would have a Mosquito Beach.
Before I left the county, I had a chance to drive out to the Flemings Farm and gather up some sets to take back to St. Helena too and all the way through the field, I felt like I did at the Williams Vineyard and Farm when I attended my first Muscadine Festival there. I am looking forward to heading back there for Labor Day to do that all over again!
Now not only will Williamsburg County celebrate the grapes, but also the cultivation of Gullah/Geechee culture in the county. Many people are unaware of the Spanish history that is throughout the Gullah/Geechee Nation even in the Carolinas and not just Florida. So, they do not know that my beloved St. Helena was named for the patron saint of a Spanish explorer nor do they realize that he and others sailed up the Pee Dee River and tried to settle there, but none of these attempts at settling worked out for the Spanish. Yet, the Africans that were on board their vessels remained for 100 years prior to the British placing their flag in Carolina and renaming the place and which led tour our ancestors altering the region into a Gullah/Geechee cultural landscape.
The African ancestors of the Gullah/Geechee of the Pee Dee like Cato and Gullah Jack were warriors that fought back and it is a blessing to find folks still in Williamsburg County fighting to hold onto land and to our cultural heritage. The pride showed as the entire county council stood up together to take the photo with me as they proclaimed the first “Gullah/Geechee Nation Appreciation Week” in their county.
Tenki Tenki ta all de Williamsburg Famlee! Gladdee hunnuh da stand up and be proud of who webe! We hafa keep spreadin de love fa all de #GullahGeechee!