As I wake each day to pray in the midst of the pandemic, I arise to give thanks for the blessings of seeing native Gullah/Geechees return to our traditions in the midst of global madness. Unbeknowst ta plenee ob dem churn, e da see and yeddi ting e ain gwine be able fa fagit fa tru. Since lil chillun dey dey wid e eldas, e hafa do sum ting wha e wan um fa do fa sho. I am seeing more and more young folks posting about wanting to learn recipes and I am seeing community gardens as well as fields that Gullah/Geechees are planting while I am hearing of commercial farms selling off land. We hafa hol pun we oin’t.
Folks are working in fields and sharing seeds and seedlings and cooking and eating at home instead of seeking fast food. The Gullah/Geechee Fishing Association members can’t stop their phones from ringing! (We’d like to ring the phone of the governor that is ignoring our letters and emails concerning blocking people from being able to sustain their food security by closing public docks and landings.).
While at home on the family compounds, folks are learning more about their family histories and land legacies which I pray leads to them valuing the land, family, and community even more. They are learning what their elders went through to hold onto the land and the methods that they used to survive and make it through many other storms and hardships and how in the midst of all of them they could still sing, “Trouble don’t last always.”
I’ve watched the smiles as I’ve encounter people walking down the roads that we used to walk down before every other person had a car and I smile seeing folks exercising and engaging with community members as they pass their houses and yards by (even though folks can’t get in close to give out hugs like some are prone to do). I see the joy shared through songs and jokes via social media and feel like we are all on one big porch at a family reunion from which folks don’t have to rush back home to get back to work.
Folks are taking the time to seek GOD daily and pray for family members that have to go to work not only here in the Gullah/Geechee Nation, but far off in cities that are hot spots. (I just got tagged on an article about one Gullah/Geechee in New Jersey that has passed on as a result of contracting the coronavirus and wonder how many others of our folks are out there perishing that we won’t be notified about since they have been gone far from home for so long.). We’ve been praying all the more for each other and folks that never watched their own pastors online before are now gathering for echurch on Sundays too. This is a day that I didn’t think I would live to see-my folks using technology and social media for enlightenment like me! The younger people are logging in for the entire family or an elder so that they can get The Word. As people of faith, we never stop believing that GOD is with us. We are thankful for opportunities to still hear voices of the folks that we have been praising with for years in addition to whomever may be preaching on a national TV station.
I prefer to go outside and engage with the land and the peace outdoors to meditate and pray. As I stand on the shoreline that has been a place of soul restoration fa plenee a we who be Gullah/Geechee, I give thanks for the seeds of survival that were planted into our collective consciousness that like the crops in my field are sprouting now. I pray that GOD will continue to rain down wisdom, knowledge, and understanding on my people of how to see all of this as a good thing and a blessing. I pray they see us continue to sustain living on and from the land as our ancestors did. The land brings numerous things that are healing and we need only seek the knowledge of how to tap into these healing elements and use them to not only build up our immunity, but to maintain mental and spiritual stability and continue self-sufficiency.
Just as we are sharing photos online of what we are doing and sharing seedlings and equipment for the fields, I pray that we will continue to share seeds of Gullah/Geechee cultural survival since these are the true heirlooms that need to be treasured. The wisdom gained from surviving storms and from island isolation over generations and how to use and reuse items instead of throwing things away and using money to buy something new (that probably won’t last as long as they tried and true well made items you are throwing away that your grandma and mama passed down) are things that are inspiring creativity again. This inspiration has folks minds and bodies moving out in yards and in fields and along the waterway. I give thanks for witnessing the wise in the midst of a Sankofa moment. I pray that we all continue to take this journey forward together and strengthen our community all the more. I am awaiting the harvest from all these Gullah/Geechee seeds of survival for sure!