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The Rice Coast of Western Africa

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Rice-growing Areas of the American South 

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The Gullah Geechee Heritage Corridor

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The Gullah Geechee Connection

  • Enslaved Africans knowledgeable in rice farming were brought to SC, southeastern NC, GA, and northeastern FL.

  • From the 18th through 19th centuries, plantation owners in the Caribbean and coastal areas of the American South purchased slaves from various parts of Africa.

  • They greatly preferred slaves from the “Rice Coast” or “Windward Coast”—the traditional rice-growing regions of West Africa stretching from Senegal down to Sierra Leone and Liberia, where a distinct species of rice (Oryza glaberrima) has been cultivated for at least 3,000 years.

  • Most of the enslaved were shipped from Bunce Island in Sierra Leone to the Caribbean islands and the port of Charleston, SC.

  • The primary tribal groups among the enslaved were the Mende, Vai, and Fula (Fulani or Fulbe).

  • Many maintained their native languages and cultural practices through music, dance, basket-weaving, attire, and food.

  • The American descendants of those Africans—the Gullah Geechee people of the lower Atlantic coast and Sea Islands—created a unique culture, with deep African retentions, evident in the persistence of their distinctive arts, crafts, foodways, music, and language.

  • After the abolition of slavery, the Gullah Geechee settled in remote villages along the southern coastal swath, where, thanks to their relative isolation, they formed strong communal ties and a unique culture that has endured for centuries.



View the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor's

2020 Report HERE

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