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Gullah, descendants of Afrikan slaves in South Carolina who haven’t abandoned their cultural roots

The Gullah Geechee Kinfolk…Pathfinders Travel Magazine

The Gullah people, also referred to as the Geechee, reside in Georgia and the low country of South Carolina within the United States.  They are also located within the coast and the Sea Islands  – which are a series of minute islands along the Atlantic Ocean. They equate to over 100 islands.

Originally, the Gullah people inhabited the Cape Fear region of North Carolina extending to the Jacksonville, Florida area. They eventually heavily populated South Carolina and Georgia.

They differentiate themselves by referring to one another as saltwater Geechee or freshwater Geechee; this describes the mainland and the Sea Islands settlers. saltwater

Geechee or Gullah are also the names of the language spoken by the African natives. The name Geechee is said to derive from the Ogeechee River within the vicinity of Savannah, Georgia.

The Gullah originate from Angola, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Senegambia, Cote d’Ivoire, Madagascar, Mozambique and the Bight of Benin which is a bight in the Gulf of Guinea on the western African coast.

Slaves from this portion of Africa were brought for the chief purpose of profit for slave owners and colonizers.

Two British trading companies operated the slave castle at Bunce Island, formerly known as Bance Island in the Sierra Leone River.  Henry Laurens, a slave agent was based in Charleston, S.C. His colleague, Richard Oswald was based in England.  Any slaves taken from West Africa passed through Bance Island.  It was the principal spot for slaves being shipped to Georgia and South Carolina.

Along the Western coast of Africa, the natives grew and harvested rice.  This rice was initially planted and grown in the inland delta of the Upper Niger River.  British colonizers realized that African rice could be cultivated in the southern parts of the U.S. Hence why slaves were captured from Western Africa. They were needed to build irrigation and dam systems that would aid in growing the rice.

By the 18th century, large acres of land in the lowlands of South Carolina and Georgia were made into African rice fields.  It proved to be very lucrative for America during that time.

The Gullah have been able to preserve much of their African culture due to the similarity in the climate of their origin and their new land. Many slave overseers were African which enabled a fusion of African cultures and preservation of customs. Additionally, because malaria and yellow fever became endemic, white slave owners, rice field owners and plantation overseers were forced to leave their homes and migrate to the city.  This attributed to the increase of African rice overseers.

1861 ushered in the beginning of the Civil War. White planters, afraid of an invasion by U.S. naval forces, abandoned their land.  Union forces soon arrived on the land and were introduced to the Geechee who were eager for their freedom and willing to risk their lives for it.  The Gullah joined the Union Army as the First South Carolina Volunteers.

The Sea Islands became the first place in the South where slaves were freed. Unitarian missionaries from Pennsylvania also formulated schools for freed slaves – even before the end of slavery.

After the end of the war, the rice fields became damaged and chances of labor were considerably low.  Rice planters gradually abandoned their land. In 1890, hurricanes obliterated the crops altogether. The Gullah were now the main inhabitants of the low country which isolated them from their former owners and the greater population. This allowed for the opportunity to practice their culture, undisturbed by outside influences.

There was an awesome mending of customs and traditions from the Mende, Baga, Fula, Mandinka and Wolof tribes, to name a few.

Some mentionable customs that have passed from African traditions are the Gullah word guber which is derived from the Kikongo and Kimbundu word, N’guba.  The Geechee version of gumbo comes from the Angolan dish of okra called Umbundu.  Gullah herbal medicines are highly comparable to traditional African remedies.  Gullah strip quilts are made in the same fashion as Kente cloth from the Ashanti and Ewe people of Ghana as well as the Akwete cloth from the Igbo tribe of Nigeria.

During the 20th century, wealthy whites redeveloped some areas of the plantations destroyed earlier on.  Since there has been an influx of visitors who wish to enjoy the favorable weather and beautiful scenery. Juxtaposing this notion has been the Gullah fighting to preserve and practice their culture.  Development of the plantations for tourism purposes has also threatened the livelihood of the native Gullah.In 2006, the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Act enabled the preservation of historic sites as it relates to Gullah culture.  The act has also provided $10 million towards the cause aforementioned.

Gullahs have reached as far north as New York City; keeping close ties to family members by visiting and passing down their traditions to newer generations. Some Gullahs have established relationships with natives in Sierra Leone in the form of reunions.


From the brutal murder of Lumumba to overthrowing Nkrumah; these are suspected ways the CIA meddled in Afrikan affairs

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was created in 1947 with the signing of the National Security Act by President Harry S. Truman.

A civilian foreign intelligence service of the United States tasked with gathering, processing, and analyzing national security information from around the world, primarily through the use of human intelligence (HUMINT), the CIA allegedly invaded and dabbled in African affairs in a way unimaginable, sowing mayhem and anarchy.

The covert maneuverings of the CIA extensively influenced politics on the continent during the cold war period leading to years of mayhem and chaos on the continent which slowed the continent’s development and economic independence.

In this article, therefore, Face2face Africa looks at four ways the CIA allegedly meddled and sowed anarchy on the continent.

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Patrice Lumumba’s assassination in Congo

Patrice Lumumba, the first prime minister of the independent Congo, was brutally murdered on January 17, 1961.

He was shot dead with two of his ministers, Joseph Okito and Maurice Mpolo.

Lumumba led the Democratic Republic of Congo to independence on June 30, 1960, after the country was passed on from King Leopold II, who took control of it as his private property in the 1880s, to Belgium in 1908 as a colony.

Lumumba was inspired by the independence movement of Africa after attending the All-African Peoples’ Conference in Ghana in 1958. This spurred him on to organize nationalist rallies in his country resulting in deadly protests that got him arrested and later released to negotiate Congo’s independence.

A strong ally of Belgium, the United States had a stake in Congo’s uranium. The United States is suspected to have planned Lumumba’s assassination as disclosed by a source in the book, Death in the Congo, written by Emmanuel Gerard and published in 2015.

In 2002, former colonial power Belgium admitted responsibility for its part in the killing, however, the US has never explained its role despite long-held suspicions.

US President Dwight D Eisenhower, concerned about communism, was worried about Congo following a similar path to Cuba.

According to a source quoted in Death in the Congo, President Eisenhower gave “an order for the assassination of Lumumba. There was no discussion; the [National Security Council] meeting simply moved on”.

However, a CIA plan to lace Lumumba’s toothpaste with poison was never carried out, Lawrence Devlin, who was a station chief in Congo at the time, told the BBC in 2000.

survey of declassified US government documents from the era notes that the CIA “initially focused on removing Lumumba, not only through assassination if necessary but also with an array of non-lethal undertakings”.

Kwame Nkrumah speaking on 24th May, 1963 in Addis Ababa

Overthrow of Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana

Ghana’s first President Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown in a military coup in 1966 while he was out of the country.

The CIA in 1966 aided by elements in the Ghana Police and Army, overthrew Nkrumah’s government, using Ivory Coast as the base for its missions.

In a 1978 book In Search of Enemies, former CIA intelligence officer John Stockwell wrote that an official sanction for the coup does not appear in CIA documents, but “the Accra station was nevertheless encouraged by headquarters to maintain contact with dissidents.

“It was given a generous budget, and maintained intimate contact with the plotters as a coup was hatched.”

He said that the CIA in Ghana got more involved and its operatives were given “unofficial credit for the eventual coup”.

declassified US government document showed awareness of a plot to overthrow Nkrumah.

Nelson Mandela — Photo: Reuters/Antony Kaminju

The arrest that led to Nelson Mandela spending 27 years in prison 

Nelson Mandela‘s arrest in 1962 came as a result of a tip-off from an agent of the CIA.

Former CIA agent Donald Rickard made the disclosure shortly before his death in the Sunday Times newspaper

Mandela served 27 years in jail for resisting white minority rule before being released in 1990.

He was subsequently elected as South Africa’s first black president in 1994.

Rickard, who died earlier in 2016 was never formally associated with the CIA, but worked as a diplomat in South Africa before retiring in the late 70s.

Mandela was released in 1990 following the relaxation of apartheid laws, including the unbanning of liberation organizations like the PAC and the ANC by the then South African President FW de Klerk.

After leaving prison, Mandela worked hard to ensure that human rights were respected and South Africans had a better future.

Agostinho Neto
Image source: AP

Opposition to the MPLA in Angola

The MPLA is a political party that has ruled Angola since the country’s independence from Portugal in 1975.

It fought against the Portuguese army in the Angolan War of Independence of 1961–74 and defeated the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and the National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA), two other anti-colonial movements, in the Angolan Civil War of 1975–2002.

With the MPLA under Agostinho Neto taking over the capital Luanda, chief of CIA’s covert operations in Angola in 1975, wrote that Washington decided to oppose the MPLA, as it was seen as closer to the Soviet Union, and support the FNLA and Unita instead, even though all three had help from communist countries.

The CIA then helped secretly import weapons, including 30,000 rifles, through Kinshasa in neighboring Zaire, now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Stockwell says in a video documentary.

He adds that CIA officers also trained fighters for armed combat.A declassified US government document detailing a discussion between the head of the CIA, the secretary of state and others indicates the support the CIA gave to the forces fighting the MPLA.




Xenophobia in South Afrika: A vision Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah warned Africa about in the 1960s [Read]

Kwame Nkrumah speaking on 24th May, 1963 in Addis Ababa

Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah, warned as far back as the 1960s that African states attaining independence from European colonial oppressors had to be guarded as political independence without economic independence was fraught with many challenges.

Displaying an envious understanding of the threats faced by the new states and the ploys of their former colonial oppressors, the man who authored a lot of books even as president warned African states gaining freedom was only one phase of the battle won. He noted that if those states did not control their economic fortunes, they risked being decimated.

With new attacks by South Africans on other African nationals, chiefly Nigerians, many Africans have expressed anger at the attacks, reminding the people from the rainbow nation of the support countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Zambia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe gave them that ultimately led to their independence in 1994.

Since Monday, mobs have been looting shops and torching trucks driven by foreigners in various parts of South Africa. The African nationals are blamed for taking people’s jobs; others accuse them of pushing drugs.

In these waves of attacks, immigrants normally targeted are from Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe and other neighbouring countries who are accused of taking all the jobs and engaging in criminal activities. Pic credit: Yahoo News

The attacks on foreign stores began a day after South African truckers started a nationwide strike on Sunday to protest against the employment of foreign drivers, reports the BBC. They blocked roads and torched foreign-driven vehicles mainly in the south-western KwaZulu-Natal province.

Police say five people have been killed and 189 people have been arrested.

Below is Nkrumah’s acute diagnosis in his 1970 book, “Class Struggle in Africa” of what is inevitable in many African states, including South Africa if the resources of the country did not benefit citizens but foreign nationals. On page 66, he stated:

“In neocolonialist states where there are immigrant workers, and where unemployment is rife … the anger of workers is surreptitiously fomented and directed by the neocolonialist puppet regime not so much against its own reactionary policies as against the “alien” workers. It is they who are blamed for the scarcity of jobs, the shortage of houses, rising prices and so on.

Nkrumah’s Class Struggle via

The result is that the African immigrant worker is victimized both by the government and by his own fellow workers.

The government brings in measures to restrict immigration, to limit the opportunities of existing immigrants, and to expel certain categories. The indigenous workers for their part, are led to believe by the government’s action, that the cause of unemployment and bad living conditions is attributable in large measure to the presence of immigrant workers. Mass feeling against them is aroused, and helps to increase any already existing national and ethnic animosities. Instead of joining with immigrant workers to bring pressure on the government, many of them strongly support measures taken against them. In this they show lack of awareness of the class nature of the struggle; and the bourgeoisie benefit from the split among the ranks of the working class.

Workers are workers, and nationality, race, tribe and religion are irrelevancies in the struggle to achieve socialism.

In the context of the African socialist revolution there is no justification for regarding non-African workers as a hindrance to economic progress, and there is similarly no justification for the victimization and the expulsion of migrant African labour from one territory or another. In Africa there should be no African “alien”. All are Africans. The enemy-wall to be brought down and crushed is not the African “alien” worker but balkanisation and the artificial territorial boundaries created by imperialism.”

Will this call be heeded by the African people and worked on, guided by their leaders?


source:Xenophobia in South Africa: A vision Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah warned Africa about in the 1960s [Read]

The lore of Ananse: A Ghanaian story about a master storyteller

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“When there are elders in the house, the young quickly grow in experience.” – An Afrikan Proverb.

I met Ananse yesterday on the streets of Adanse, just behind the old school factory where the word-smiths are skilled at forging compliance out of rebellion. He laid there, silently buried on the lips of his successors. Our conversation was animated and crisp, it wielded a quiet considerable depth.

For those who by virtue of the circumstances surrounding their birth have been moved to inquire into the ‘who’ and ‘what’ of what ‘Ananse’ can possibly be, I more than glad to share with you this…

Ananse is portrayed as a mythicaGhana whose essence is confined within the wisdom gap of the Akans; a proudly powerful ethnic community flourishing on the soils of Ghana, West Africa. His visual representation is that of a spider-man, but without the costume and Mary Jane.

Kwaku Ananse, as he is affectionately hailed by the sons and daughters of Ghana is a creative trickster, probably the mythical equivalence to Loki; a god of mischief in Norse mythology. Ananse carries in him the gift of the gab; a word-smith whose quick wit and verbal fluidity accords him the ease of access into the minds and skins of his adversary, gaining the upper hand time and time again.

Ananse and me drew from his exploits, tale of exploits; he told me a story of how he boldly approached God one fateful day and requested of Him to make him the master of storytelling. He was then tasked by God to bring forth a live; python, cheetah and hornet to prove himself worthy of the title.

He said; “I walked across the length and breadth of the Earth until I found a humongous python sleeping in the heart of the forbidden forest in Dahomey. I woke him up and told him a story of how his wife had gone about the entire forest telling the animal kingdom of how her husband was shorter than the Neem tree sitting in their courtyard, and that I had been delegated by the elders to ascertain the truth of her claims. The python quickly ushered me into his courtyard, apprehensive about his reputation as the longest animal in the kingdom he quickly sized himself up with the Neem tree in his courtyard to prove the falsehood of his wife’s gossip. I nimbly tied him up with a rope I had been concealing in my anus all along, uprooted the tree with my might and sent him to God…”

“…I knew the cheetah was the fastest animal in the kingdom having to chase after him for twelve good years before facing off with him. I dug a hole along a race track he tasked me to create if I am to dare him to a race and covered it with dried herbs. On the day of the race, he bolted ahead of me like lightning and dropped into the hole I had prepared for his capture earlier on. I approached him where he lay within the ground, covered him with my web and took him to God…”

“…the hornet was the tricky part, but I bested it. Word from the animal kingdom had it that she was nesting in a hut situated close to the edge of the Earth, so I walked for three years without rest, water or food till I got to her abode. I had come with a gourd hollowed out for her capture. At night when she was asleep, I snuck close to the hut, climbed it and silently removed all the thatch roofing it. After that, I hung the gourd from her window sill, walked away a few distances and shouted; ‘Rain!’ ‘Rain!’ ‘Rain!’. She woke up startled of the sound of rain, looked up and saw no covering on her roof, so she mindlessly darted into the opening in the gourd for cover. I quickly covered up the opening of the gourd and sent her to God, then I was entitled.” These were his final words with a smile on his face.

Myriad of interpretations can be ascribed to this ancient tale and mine is no different; that however tough, fast or tricky life may get, originality, initiative and persistence shall be the tickets to where all the righteous are led.

So go on, tell everybody that Ananse just dropped the clay pot containing the world’s wisdom from atop the palm tree, and that there is enough for everybody.

Go on, do it with an inborn fire, on a night when the sky is ether-black and the Moon is star bright. Let that be your manna and your light. You and all of your brothers and sisters, sit in a circle of life and allow your finest orator tell you of your stories.

Stories woven in the past to hold the understanding of present and future generations. Stories forged on the hilltops of Mesopotamia by the Sumerian Kings, nurtured in the Nile Valley by the Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt and ferried around the world by the Mycenaean of the Aegean. All hail the ones before us, they have done well.

As I stood to take leave of him he said; “this is my story which I have narrated, if it be sweet or if it be not sweet, take some elsewhere, and let some come back to me.”


The story of Breffu, a female slave from Ghana who led a massive slave revolt to take over the West Indies in 1733

Many rebellions took place during the peak of the slave trade. The reasons for the amuprising are simple; enslaved Africans were tired of being abused, misused and mistreated. They were also tired of seeing each other die and living in stark poverty all their lives.

Enslaved Africans were not allowed to voice out their troubles and problems; this led to the act of rebelling against their masters and fleeing to freedom, their only way of being heard.

In 1733, one such revolt against the Danes in the West Indies happened. Known as the 1733 slave insurrection on St John, it is one of the longest lasting rebellion recorded in the history of the Americas lasting from November 1733 to August 1734. It is also one of the earliest to have occurred.

European power over the West Indies from late 1600 to 1718 shifted between the Spanish, British, French, Dutch and the Danes.  By 1718, the Danes had full control over the land and established a proper settlement. Slaves already existed in the West Indies, and a  high number of them were from West Africa, notably present-day  Ghana.

In November 1733, enslaved Akans from the Kingdom of Akwamu in Ghana were led by Breffu, a young female rebel owned by Pieter Krøyer in Coral Bay to plan a rebellion. With the support of Christian, another slave, Breffu empowered over 150 slaves to stand up for their rights, rebel against their masters and take over the West Indies. Many of these slaves were royals, and with the hopes of gaining their freedom and enjoying the privileges they enjoyed in the Akwamu Kingdom,  the slaves willingly agreed to Breffu’s idea.

On November 23, 1733, the rebellion against their masters started as planned. Going about their regular duties, the slaves had previously hidden knives in wood that they delivered to the fort at Coral Bay. After successfully entering Fort Fredericksvaern, the slaves killed majority of the soldiers in the fort. While they fought, John Gabriel, a soldier, managed to escape and alert the Danish officials, but the alert was too late as the slaves managed to take over the fort and fire the cannon from the fort indicating the takeover.

Back in their plantations, Breffu and other slaves waited patiently for the signal from the fort. The successful firing of the canon indicated that slaves in their plantations could kill their masters. Together with Christian, Breffu raced into the home of her master, Pieter Krøyer and murdered him and his wife. Other slaves followed suit taking all the ammunition and gunpowder they could carry. Breffu continued and killed three members of the Van Stell family, one of the wealthiest families on the island.

A few slave masters managed to escape off the island on their boats, and the Akwamu people took control of most of the island. Their plan was to take over the plantations and use Africans of other descent as slave-labour just as was practised in the Kingdom back in Ghana.

With Breffu as their leader, they were successful until early 1934 when the French military had finally agreed to help the Danes regain the Island and their lost plantations.

In April 1734, during a ritual, Breffu and 23 other Akwamu rebels committed suicide to prevent being captured. Their bodies were found at Browns bay minutes after the suicide ritual. A few weeks later in May, the Akwamus were defeated by the French Military due to the advantage of ammunition. By the end of May, many surviving plantation owners regained their property. The last Akwamu rebels were killed in August 1734 officially ending the 1733 slave insurrection on St John.

In many accounts of this rebellion it is revealed that until her death, the French military and many slave masters of the West Indies did not know that the leader of the uprising was a woman. Many were shocked at the revelation and were mortified that a woman singlehandedly led one of the most extended rebellions and take over known in the New World. Breffu is popularly called the ‘Queen of St John’.

source: The story of Breffu, a female slave from Ghana who led a massive slave revolt to take over the West Indies in 1733