Do you know the words cootuh, oonuh or buckruh? Do they ring a bell? If you don’t, those are terms from the Gullah language, spoken by the Gullah Geechee people.
They are a group of people that are the descendants of enslaved Africans from West and Central Africa who were brought to states on the eastern coastal islands such as North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and Georgia.
Now, one young Black woman is using TikTok, the popular social media platform, to share the history of one of the oldest communities in the United States, according to NBC News.
Similar to a contributor of The Root, Sunn m’Cheaux, who teaches the Gullah Geechee langwidge (language) at Harvard University, Akua Page, an entrepreneur, content creator and tour guide from Charleston, South Carolina, is sharing Gullah stories to audiences who may not know a lot about the culture. Her TikTok account, @geecheegodess, has more than 57,000 followers and 750,000 likes.
In her videos, she educates viewers on the origins of the Gullah Geechee Community, the disparities her community faces, traditional healing practices and terms that are used in the Gullah Geechee community.
From NBC News:
A 2005 environmental impact statement estimated there were 200,000 Gullah Geechee people in the southeast region of the U.S That number has likely shifted as the community continues to spread. There are large concentrations of Gullah Geechee people in cities like Jacksonville, Florida; Savannah, Georgia; and Charleston — which are close to the isolated islands where the culture was created. However, there is no official data on how many people currently speak Gullah.
When anti-literacy laws were lifted, allowing Black populations to learn how to read, write and attend schools for the first time, Page said, “a lot of people were being beaten that were speaking Gullah. So that historical trauma transferred over.”
Growing up in the foster system in South Carolina, Page was not always around other people in the Gullah Geechee community, according to NBC News.
But now as a content creator, Page can share the culture that she did not always grow up around. The comments on many of her videos are positive with people showing interest in learning more about the Gullah Geechee people and connecting more with their roots.
“I love TikTok. It has been so instrumental in the work I’m doing,” Page said, according to NBC News.
Page hopes to pass on her work to others in the Gullah community so that her culture can continue to survive for years to come.