Today, the descendants of West Africans who were brought in bondage to the coastal islands of South Carolina and Georgia, are striving to preserve a way of life. Today, the descendants of West Africans who were brought in bondage to the coastal islands of South Carolina and Georgia, are striving to preserve a way of life. Gullah is more than simply the language and name of a people. It encompasses the essence of struggle, spirituality, perseverance and tradition. The Native Island Gullah people adhere to the customs of their ancestors through the sewing of sweet grass baskets, the weaving of casting nets and the preparation of traditional Gullah foods.
Beginning February 1st and running through February 28th, the Native Island Business and Community Affairs Association, Inc. will host the Seventh Annual Native Islander Gullah Celebration, an event that showcases the arts, crafts, foods and history of the Native Island Gullah people. Celebration events include a month long art exhibit, Gospel celebrations I, II, & III, the Third Annual Business and Economic Summit, an Arts, Crafts and Food Expo, the National Freedom Day Celebration, an Ol’ Fashioned Gullah Barbecue and De Gullah Playhouse One-Acts. We invite you to come and celebrate Gullah on Hilton Head Island, where participants souls will be transformed by the spirit of the Gullah culture.
Established in 1996, the Native Islander Gullah Celebration is an annual event held during the month of February. In its inception, the Gullah Celebration was designed for a few basic reasons: to create economic development opportunities for minority business owners, to develop the cultural tourism market and to increase tourism in February on Hilton Head Island, historically the slowest month of the year. These objectives are being met, however strategic plans are made each year to ensure continued growth and expansion.
For the past three years, the Native Islander Gullah Celebration has been recognized by the Southeast Tourism Society as one of the Top Twenty Events in the Southeast. Each event during the Celebration incorporates a facet of the Gullah culture. Visitors have an opportunity to experience the food and music, receive firsthand, historical information and take a journey through the culture via the visual arts. The Ol’ Fashioned Gullah Barbecue, sponsored in part by the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina offers classic barbecue favorites and cultural entertainment.
The Arts, Crafts and Food Expo offers cultural demonstrations, i.e., sweet grass baskets sewing, indigo dyeing and fishnet weaving. Vendors participate in this event selling authentic Gullah and African crafts as well as an offering of all traditional Gullah foods. Entertainment includes storytellers, the Gullah Stomp and Shout, African dance and Gospel music. Gospel concerts feature gospel music, Negro spirituals and highlight the history of music as it developed among the Gullah people.
Panelist gathered for the cultural symposium share the history of the Gullah culture as it relates to their specific discipline of lifestyle experiences.