Memorializing a #GullahGeechee Famlee Legacy
Tenk GAWD fa mi ancestas and fa disya land een de Gullah/Geechee Nation ya! Tenki Tenki GAWD fa unsta wha famlee dey ya fa!
As I proceeded out my door for the past week, I looked out over our family compound / estate and saw cousins. I heard the sound of machines and tools in the forms of everything from hammers to lawn mowers and heavy equipment operating. As I stood there on the porch looking out, I could feel the energy of my family members that are in the realm of the ancestors, especially my grandparents that left us this land, standing with me and looking out and smiling. I started thinking of all that they went through toiling this land during enslavement and how the subsequent generations have been able to build more homes on it and are still working and maintaining the land and I smiled.
Yesterday was no different. I emerged from the peace of my home to go out into the sun and walk to my mother’s house to make lunch. I knew that I would have other relatives there and we keep up the custom of feeding folks. So, I had thought through the amount that I would make and what large pot to use. Sure enough, there were two cousins hard at work removing a tree that had started dropping branches from all the windstorms and thunderstorms that we have already dealt with this year. We wanted that one out of the way before hurricane season because we don’t want it to suddenly completely fall on the house. So, I cracked a couple jokes on them boys and proceeded inside to the kitchen.
After hailing my mother and listening to her give her daily briefings on what all the family members and islanders are doing, I proceeded to pull out my pots and the black skillet to get to work. I wanted to make a hot meal and a cold one simultaneously so I had to get all the burners working. I was truly good to go when I was literally cooking with hot grease.
Throughout the cooking, I was stopped and to asked to look for tools associated with the work on the tiller that my brother was now outside doing, to replenish the sweet tea and fill cups and bring those outside to the cousins, and I was the receptionist that answered the phone (If I wanted to depending on who was on Caller ID.). The one call that came in was another cousin, I gladly picked up to her shock because she was calling to find out from my mother whether or not I might want baskets for my vegetables. I told her, “Yes, thank you!” She said, “I’ll bring them now.”
It didn’t take long before I heard the doorbell as my hands were stirring a pot and it was cuz arriving with beautiful indigo and Gullah/Geechee Nation colored baskets. I was elated!
I put my mask on and headed outside to see all the family gathered under the tree wearing their masks (because they are tired of hearing me get on folks about it I am sure) and keeping their distance under the shade of the trees. Work on the tiller was still going on as was work on the chain saw at this point. I teased them about hosting an early family reunion and we all laughed, joked, and smiled.
As I walked back across the compound, I thought of how many times over the hundreds of years had my family worked in such perfect syncopation applying their GOD given gifts to help improve and maintain the beauty of our land and to help one another. I can still feel my late brother Ron with me at all times when I proceed out into the field to work the crops. I thought of the many problems of how to get something done that we solved together for decades.
I thought of how not one of the family members had to come and check on my mom or help either of us out with anything. They could have had the skills and the items that we needed and kept them where they live on the island, but instead they came by and shared them and in return we shared energy and laughter that is healing and sustaining.
I called another two cousins and one was out of the creek and at his business selling bait and the other one was in the creek getting more fish. Fishing continues to be a major tradition that we maintain to the point that I think some of my cousins have gills now.
My mother had already fried the trout that had recently been caught and I placed it on the plates with the tuna salad for the other folks while I prepared my household our veggie beef medley and some more swamp water to drink.
As I prepared the plates, it dawned on me that this is Memorial Day weekend which is actually “Decoration Day” weekend here in the Gullah/Geechee Nation. I thought of how on my father’s side of the family, my aunts always insured that we honored the fact that in every war that was fought in America, we had a family member in it. They truly saluted their fighting. I saluted them fighting for us and for us to have a place to gain our own self-respect and to be self-sufficient on it. So, I thought about all the work that we continue to do to maintain both sets of family land and I saw no greater way to memorialize their legacy than to continue to work and own this land. This honors their memories and all the work ethics that are in our DNA today. Therefore, at that end of the day, I smiled again and thought to myself, GAWD Tenki Tenki fa disya Gullah/Geechee Famlee and we land and legacy! Ta Hunnuh be de gloree!
- Posted in: Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation ♦ Gullah/Geechee Fishing Association ♦ Gullah/Geechee Foodways ♦ Gullah/Geechee Land Ownership & Rights ♦ Gullah/Geechee Ourstory ♦ Queen Quet ♦ Uncategorized
- Tagged: Decoration Day, family, family compound, family reunion, Geechee, Gullah, Gullah/Geechee Nation, land ownership, Memorial Day, Queen Quet, unity