Search This Blog

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Gullah-Geechee Nation

I was watching a documentary on the Gullah-Geechee Nation earlier this month and I was so awe-stricken by the closeness of the people to their anscestors West African culture.

To many, this is not news. I thought I knew enough about them myself. Seeing their community in action is what really touched me though. The people of Sapelo Island are focused on in this documentary.

These people were decendants of slaves and after the abolition of slavery, they basically survived on their own. They grow their own vegetables, and catch their own seafood. They are excellent artisans. The skills they posses to create baskets or woodcarvings would lead you to believe they had been trained in Sierra Leone or something. Those skills were actually passed down from generation to generation. The Gullah-Geechees respect the planet, and do not wish to take too much from it. They acknowledge "the Creator" and the blessings brought to them by Him.

One of the most interesting parts for me was the mention and reverence of an ex-slave named Bilal(i). He was known to have spoken several languages, Arabic being one of them. The stories passed down from slavery until now mention that he was a practicing Muslim who could read and write Arabic. His writings number about 16 pages and are said to be housed in the Georgia State Law Library. Bilal(i) was also said to have had 19 children and he gave them all Muslim names. I am eager to visit and talk to the decendants of Bilal(i) and the other Gullah-Geechee people.

Right now, the inhabitants of Sapelo Island are under duress because of the development of RESORTS on the Island. They are fighting to save their land from "imminent domain" and other such measures. Check out these links for more information on the Gullah-Geechee Nation and Islam in America.

Gullah Geechee Nation Headquarters

Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition

The Gullah Yale University

Sapelo Island The New Georgia Encyclopedia

African-American Geneology AfriGeneas

Islam In America The Iranian

This Far By Faith PBS

Documentary Film- The Will To Survive: The Story of the Gullah/Geechee Nation sponsored by Wal*Mart


  1. salams,

    that's real interesting.


    thanks for commenting on my blog.

    :) masalama

  2. The manuscript actually has thirteen pages and I am currently working on an annotated edition of a translation. There is an article about him on Wikipedia. You can find out more about him and other Muslims in my Five Classic Muslim Slave Narratives (Magribine Press, 2006).
    Muhammed al-Ahari


Share your thoughts