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Sierra Leone-Gullah Heritage Formed in US

Sierra Leone-Gullah Heritage Formed in US

Concord Times (Freetown)
April 20, 2006
Posted to the web April 20, 2006

By Ibrahim Seibure

The cultural and historic links between Gullahs in the United States and Sierra Leoneans are by now common knowledge to most, if not all Sierra Leoneans. At various times interest and excitement has reached such fever pitch that even presidents were moved to action.

A press release issued by the Sierra Leone - Gullah Heritage Association states that the group is determined to strengthen the already established ties with each other and are not broken, but in fact improved upon.

There have been exchanges and visits between the two groups in recent history, and upon arrival on what they may have thought to be foreign soil, both sides have been astonished to find themselves looking in a mirror; surprised to find that they are home, away from home. The faces resemble family, the food and culture resonate with such similarities that it's hard to grasp that there is a separation of more than 250 years in between.

Recently, there has been a sudden rekindled interest in this segment of our history. Partly due to the last organized trip, Priscilla's Homecoming in 2005, some Sierra Leoneans have found it necessary to take action into actually implementing solid ties with some of the Gullahs, on a personal and lasting basis. In the last 20 years we've had three such home comings that made national and international news; each with it's own little twist in details, but all with people on both sides of the Atlantic anxious to meet and greet each other and left with wanting to know more of one another. "Fahmbul tik dey ben, boht i noh dae brok" According to Opala, with whom this new found interest has naturally gravitated towards: "Sierra Leoneans never seem to get enough of this stuff " Each time after one of these homecoming trips they will say "Opala, you did well, but what about this; or that ?" Professor Joe Opala first arrived on Sierra Leonean soil in 1974 and he hasn't left us since. Even when in the US he is always somehow involved in sharing the knowledge he has acquired in this area. He is always a central figure in the mentioned home coming trips for Gullah people. This new association has already worked closely with him in structuring their focal starting point, as well as other relevant information that will enhance their existence.

The next question then for Opala, quite naturally, is: "Who's coming home next?" Well, if The Sierra Leone Gullah Heritage Association has anything to do with it, it could be every Gullah of Sierra Leonean descent. Since visiting South Carolina and meeting with members of our family from across the sea (Gullahs), this group is determined that the ties we have already established with each other are not broken, but in fact improved upon.

Basing their existence on the foundation of education, they will provide speaking engagements on the subject matter, performances by theatrical groups and musicians, books, CDs and even an annual Calendar.

They strategically aim to preserve historical landmarks both in the US and Sierra Leone and especially the aspect of their culture and language that is still prevalent in the Gullah way of life here in the US.

At the annual Gullah Heritage Celebrations this November 2006, the Sierra Leone - Gullah Heritage Association expects to mobilize hundreds of Sierra Leoneans to converge on St. Helena Island, where a Sierra Leonean Tent will display artifacts of Sierra Leonean culture, food and other pertinent attributes.

But save the date for November 11 through 13, 2006 and you will be updated regularly as the time approaches.

Copyright 2006 Concord Times. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (

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Sierra Leone-Gullah Heritage Formed in US
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