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Cum Yah Gullah
Revisit a piece of American culture through its retelling of the story of the Gullah Inspiring Songs.
Candid Folktales. African Heritage Preserved.
Sponsored by Devon
Don't miss the Aunt Pearlie Sue show on December 22 at noon and 7 p.m.!
Buried deep within the American tale lies the story of the Gullah. A vivid and fertile culture where the sounds of Michael Row the Boat Ashore flows through the salty air and clever little Br’er Rabbit taught the world brains are as good as might. The roots of these mysterious, pleasant pieces of folklore can be traced back in time to a place where traditions thrived, family flourished in a unique new setting and hardships transformed into strengths of community.
Gullah is a West African culture that survived the hardships of slavery and remained almost unscathed until the 1950’s when the Sea Islands were connected to mainstream America through bridges. Now, the Children’s Museum of Houston (CMH) is reviving the arts and practices of the Gullah people in a reinvented, powerful new exhibit, titled Cum Yah Gullah, opening February 25, 2012 through September 8, 2013. The exhibit aims to preserve and provide cultural understanding of Gullah traditions, explore the geography and ecosystems of the Sea Islands and develop an appreciation for one’s own culture and background.
During the 1600s to the 1800s, millions of West Africans were enslaved throughout the Western Hemisphere. Of those taken to the U.S., most were stripped of their culture, language and customs and as a result, lost their homeland traditions. However, Africans living on the Sea Islands, along the coast of South Carolina and Georgia, remained relatively isolated from mainland America. Thus, they were able to form and preserve a unique way of life that blended their West African heritage with European-American and slave traditions. This became known as the Gullah culture.
Isolated from the mainland, the Gullah people have preserved more of their African cultural history than any other segment of African-American people. In fact, experts believe 40 percent of all African-Americans are of Gullah descent and some may not even know what that is. Cum Yah Gullah will build bridges into the ancestral home which exists in the hearts and minds of many Gullah people today.
THE GULLAH MESSAGE
Gullah heritage is distinct and is expressed in this exhibit through the culture’s unique customs, language, storytelling, music and more:
• Experience Gullah life through the eyes of a child, as Deja walks you through her home on the Sea Islands
• Sway with the rhythms of Gullah life through sounds, crafts and musical traditions and the Gullah influence of rhythm in popular music and spirituals in Praise House.
• Enter the recreated, traditional Gullah Home where you’ll be able to engage in the everyday Gullah practices.
• Discover as characters of Gullah tales come to life and learn how the Gullah folks entertained themselves through lively, storytelling in The Tellin’ Forest.
• Head outside the home and experience how the Gullah people survived by gardening, catching shrimp, making nets and growing food in Livin’ off the Land.
Gullah culture has made important contributions to mainstream American culture and by exploring this rich history, you will be inspired to investigate and reflect on your own culture and the culture of others.
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