Monday, February 14, 2011

Savannah and the Gullah Stories

Lillian Grant-Baptiste, Savannah Storyteller
photo by Elizabeth Farish
 Savannah!   I got an invitation and I went! And I discovered a culture and its stories.  My daughter and I listened to Lillian Grant-Baptiste tell Gullah stories.  The Gullahs were a rice-growing community of former slaves who maintained many traditions of Sierra Leone on the rice coast of West Africa where their families were captured. They worked as slaves and later as freed people on the remote chain of sea islands along the coast of Georgia and South Carolina.  

Lillian began each story with  "I have a story to tell," and the listeners responded "We want to hear your story." She described the stories as a "tool of resistance and reconciliation."

I want to take you  into one of the Gullah stories so here's a youtube of storyteller Carolyn White telling a Didn't-I-tell-you-so? story, "Going Down to the Pond." If you have a New England ear for language like me, you'll want to listen real close. 

I found out that the Gullah tales are full of trickster rabbits and foxes that take on very human vanities - a lot like like the Bhutanese tales we've been recording with refugees in New Hampshire.

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