Memories of Africa


By Joseph E. Holloway Ph.D

When Prof. John F. Szwed wrote “Africa lies just off the coast of Georgia” he was referring to the mainland coastal areas and adjacent Sea Islands of Georgia and South Carolina, where there exists the most direct living repository of African culture to be found anywhere in North America.

Geographically, the Sea Islands begin north of Georgetown, South Carolina, and continue to parts of Northern Florida.  There are approximately 1,000 islands along the coast of South Carolina and Georgia which are separated from the mainland by marshes, alluvial streams and rivers.  Some of the islands are bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and are twenty miles or more from the mainland.  They range in size from very small and uninhabitable to Johns Islands, South Carolina, which is the second largest island in the United States.  As late as the 1920s the islands were inaccessible except by boat because of the many rivers, creeks, and marshes.  Some bridge construction was started about 1915 but it was not until 1940 that most of the islands had direct access to the mainland.  The bridges marked an end of an era of isolation.  Sam Doyle, a long time resident, remembered the change.  “When the bridges came they brought the automobile and the automobile brought the lights and with the coming of lights all the spirits left never to come back again.”[1]

During the slave trade, until as late as 1858 there was an undetected traffic in illegally transported Africans brought directly from Africa to the Sea Islands.  This was easily accomplished in the complex watery wilderness off the southern coast of the United States. Because of the geographic isolation, African culture has been retained in almost every element of the Sea Island culture, including aesthetics, cuisine, folktales, folklore, language and oral tradition.  In South Carolina, African naming practices, net making, fishing practices, the ring shout, basketry and burial ceremonies permeate indigenous culture.

The Gullah [as they are called by others] are direct descendants of Africans coming mostly from the ethnic groups of the Bantus of Central Africa.  The word “Gullah” itself is believed to be a shortened form or corruption of n’gola [Angola].  They speak their own language, called Gullah or Sea Island Creole.  Today Sea Island Creole is spoken along the coast of Northern Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, and in the West Indies, and along the coastal regions of Central and West Africa called Krio there.  In South Carolina, a Gullah is one who speaks non-standard English, and in the South Carolinian Gazette, “bad English” was used in reference to someone who spoke the Gullah dialect.

The “Big Gun Shoot” was the beginning of the American Civil War as the enslaved Africans heard the big gun shoot. The “Big Gun Shoot” was “de fust gun what shoot on Hilton Head edurin’ de Civil war.”  For example, when the Census was being taken the Gullah replied to inquiry about how old they were as followed: “Well Ma’am I can’t rightly tell, but I tell you dis when gun shoot--.”  This meant she was born during the Civil War.  Another replied, “When gun shoot I bin so leetle I tink it bin tunder.” "I bin jest big ‘nuf to tie de cow out.”  Another ex-slave remembered that, “I birth de berry day gun shoot. I bin a grown ‘oman wid chillum. ‘Another ex-slave admitted that, “Dey nebber did told me ma age Ma’am, but when gun shoot I ben a leetle bot in shirt tail.”  They remembered the “Big Gun Shoot” days and record their ages from that important event in their lives.[2]

Big Gun Shoot marked the transition from slavery to freedom as enslaved Africans left the plantations and crossed confederate lines to reach federal lines.  As late as spring 1861 Lincoln had no policy for dealing with enslaved Africans who left the plantation and crossed federal lines.  General Winfield requested that President Lincoln allow slave owners in Virginia to cross the Potomac and recover slaves.  The abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison Sumner, and Phillips openly attacked the Government and demanded that all fugitives be emancipated immediately.

When General Butler learned that the slaves had been employed in erecting Confederate defenses he declared that they were “contraband of war” and should not be returned to their masters.  On July 9th the House of Representative passed a resolution declaring it was not part of the duty of Federal troops to capture or turn in runaways.  It was not until the Confiscation Act of August 6, 1861 that a uniform policy toward enslaved Africans was developed.  The Confiscation Act provided that any property used by the owner’s consent and with his knowledge in aiding or abetting insurrection against the United States was the lawful subject of prize and capture whenever found.  When the property consisted of slaves, they were to be freed forever.

Hundreds more joined the Union Army as part of the First South Carolina Volunteers.  In the Sea Island the situation was different. When the white planters fled the Sea Islands before the invading Union troops, the enslaved Africans who lived on the plantation refused to relinquish it, having nowhere else to go.  It was then that the Sea Island Blacks began to cultivate the land for themselves.  The War Department turned over the task of collecting and selling the cotton to the Treasury Department.  Secretary Chase appointed cotton agents to work with the Blacks.  William H. Reynolds, lieutenant Colonel of the First Regiment of Rhode Island Artillery was appointed resident agent in charge of cotton.  There was much abuse of this situation.  Black labor was being exploited and numerous blacks worked without pay.  Cotton agents had promised wages to the laborers.  They were slow to pay because profits from the cotton sale were to be used to pay ex-slaves.

Major-General David Hunter commanding the Dept. of the South finally issued a decree to enlist Blacks from the working fields to the army to the field.  The first Black regiments of black troops were recruited on St. Helena Island.  General Rufus Saxton was placed in charged of the Sea Islands.  Early in November he called a meeting of superintendents at Coffin Point Plantation on St. Helena Island, and finally advocated an almost complete over throw of the old plantation system.  He decided to divide the plantation among the people, allotting the Black families as much land as they could cultivate, paying them on the basis of what they raised.

The Sea Island plantations under Government supervision were divided into plots and rented without charge to the plantation families.  The land was being apportioned at the rate of two acres for every working hand and five sixteenths of an acre for every child.  On Feb. 1863 the Government began selling the conquered lands in the Sea Islands at auction for the Federal tax levied by the Act of August 5, 1861.  Some land was sold to private individuals and other land was turned into military and naval bases on Parris Island, South Carolina.  In the Sea Islands by an Act of Congress on July 17, 1862 African Americans were declared free.

On Jan.16, 1865, General William Tecumseh Sherman issued his famous military decree, Special Field Order No. 15.  This military directive set aside a 30-mile-wide tract of land along the Atlantic coast from “the islands from Charleston South, South Carolina, 245 miles south to Jacksonville, Florida [and] the abandoned rice fields along the river for thirty miles back from the sea”[3]for the freed slaves.  White owners had abandoned the land, and Sherman reserved it for black families.  The head of each family would receive “possessory title” to forty acres of land.  General Sherman also gave the freedmen the used army mules, thus giving rise to the slogan “Forty acres and a mule.”   Within six months, 40,000 African Americans were working 400,000 acres in the South Carolina and Georgia low country and on the Sea Islands.

While Sherman envisioned “forty acres and a mule” for all the ex-slaves, Congress prevented this policy from taking hold in other liberated plantations.  It was only in the Sea Islands where land was distributed to former slaves and today their descendants still control the same lands on Hilton Head Island, St. Helena, Ladies Island, Daufuskie Island, Johns Islands and many more.

The Gullah oral tradition recorded a visit by President Abraham Lincoln to Frogmore in 1863.  The old people still claim they can identify the very site and oak tree where President Lincoln spoke.[4] One informant, Sam Doyle, remembered what his great-grandfather told him.  “Pablo River was mine great-grandfather, and he told us that Lincoln came and spoke on the Island where Highway 21 is located today before he was inducted into the Union army.  I kno’ dis to because he told me.  He was a soldier in the Civil War—a corporal.  He was recruited from the Island here.  He told us the story of Lincoln.”[5]

According to Edith Dabbs, President Lincoln had issued an official proclamation for the first time to the thousands of ex-slaves gathered to hear it on a platform under an immense live oak tree.[6] Thomas Wentworth Higginson, commander of the Black Regiment in the Sea Islands, wrote that he received the President’s Second Message of Emancipation and he read it to the men.[7] The process of oral transmission remained African in that Lincoln’s words were as representative as the person.  The fact that Rivers did not heard Lincoln personally was irrelevant.  The words were Lincoln’s and that was recorded.  Who said them was not important.

After the Civil War the Government had a major problem—how to teach and education four million newly freed slaves.  On the Island of Port Royal there was a massive experiment in education. On South Carolina’s Sea Islands, a black cabinetmaker began to establish schools.  On South Carolina’s Sea Islands, a black cabinetmaker began teaching openly after having covertly operated a school for years.  In 1862 northern missionaries arrived on the Sea Islands to begin teaching the ex-slaves.  Laura Towne, a white woman, and Charlotte Forten, a black woman from a wealthy Philadelphia family, opening a school on St. Helena’s Island as part of the Port Royal Experiment.  They enrolled 138 children and fifty-eight adults.  By 1863, there were 1,700 students and forty-five teachers at thirty schools in the South Carolina low country Young children attended Day School and the adults attended Night School.  This first experiment in mass education worked so well at St. Helena Penn School that it later began the became the model for the public education throughout the United States.

A possible connection with the ship Wanderer was Issac Smith. Mrs. Bernice Brooks recalled the African stories and recollections of her great-grandfather who said he came over on a slave ship in his teens and did not remain a slave for long because freedom came soon after arriving.  He died in 1932 and was near 90 or in his early 90s. He was born in West Africa in 1842.  He recalled being in his teens about 16, at the time of his arrival to Georgia.  He remembered being on deck with long horn cattle (probably from the Senegambia), and that it was very hot when he arrived (probably during the summer).

The way Africans were smuggled in was to mix them with the legitimate cargo.  Africans were hidden and mixed in with the cattle.  He was captured in Africa along with his father, but was separated after they landed in Georgia.  Isaac Smith never did learn how to speak good English and talked with a strong Gullah accent.  In America, he was employed as a “house boy” and never really worked the field.  He fished all the time and drank strong coffee.  He was probably from the coast [or a river area] and familiar with fishing.[8] Given his age at the time of his arrival and death, it is more than likely that he was a member of the Wanderer.  Being too young to work the fields may explain why he saw service as a “house boy.”[9]  However, the fact that he was Senegambian and employed as a house servant was no accident in that they were preferred over other Africans for house service duty in America.  The fact that longhorn cattle were being exported from West Africa is a situation that requires additional examination.  It is also known that cattle egrets came with the cattle from West Africa, but whether they were consciously imported to North America or whether they followed the cattle on their own is not known.  Today cattle egrets are found in West Africa and the Southern portion of the United States where they now follow tractors instead of cattle.

Emory Campbell on Hilton Head Island recalled that his great aunty told him how these illegal Africans were smuggled in wagons that were covered as to keep the authorities unaware of their activities.[10] As late as 1862, Miss Towne noticed that one woman from Gabriel Eddings Plantation had been brought from Africa.  Her face was tattooed and she was one of more “vigorous stock” than the others.[11] It is quite possible that this African Community existed since slavery time and had preserved a continued African presence as reflected in burial custom, cosmology, basketry, handicraft and folklore.

In 1893, the local population was very African in their own cultural heritage.  Nevertheless the people on the Wallace Plantation were identified as Africans.  “Dem people dat can give you moe history dey all gon’ now.  Dem people on de Wallace Plantation dey we’re Africans and I kno’ dis to be true.  Dey were da people dat know all about Africa and African tings.  Dey all gon’ now dey wuz wiped out when de storm uh 1893 came.”[12]

The fact that the Wallace Plantation was the only plantation with people identified as “Africans” on St. Helena by the local people suggests that Mr. Wallace was in the illegal smuggling business.  This suggestion is also substantiated by the State Stature which revealed that L.R. Wallace on Feb.19, 1829 incurred penalties for slave trading.[13] Many of those who had been smuggled in prior to 1858 remained on the Wallace Plantation up to the time of the devastation of the storm of 1893.

Americans of African descent in the South Carolina Sea Islands share another major cultural trait which can be directly linked to their African ancestors -- their concept of time.  Since the majority of Africans coming into South Carolina came from both West and Central Africa, examples of time perception are taken from these areas.  However, this concept is shared by the entire African continent and within the African Diaspora in the New World.  In other words, many people of color seem to have a common cultural perception of time.

In the Sea Islands, as in Africa, time is episodic and is associated with the forces of nature, the seasons: lunar and solar cycles etc.[14] Common climatic factors, particularly the hot, humid Carolina summers, have reinforced the general pace and style of life.  From this viewpoint, events are used as dates and are recalled chronologically. Among the Gullah existed historical time, using memorable events such as “de Big Gun Shoot," that is the Civil War, to mark distance in time from the past, present and future.  Locational time used the distance from plantations to approximate time, sacred and religious time, as well as human time well.

The Gullah concept of time was strongly rooted in the African concept of time and history. To the Sea Islanders, time is ecological and measured by natural phenomena.  Time is cyclically based on the natural cycle of nature, and history is episodically based on major events in life. Major events are used as benchmarks for historic time. That is, in African society we can divide time into four categories: ecological time, periodic time, episodic time and eternal time. Ecological time refers to the environment and time as recorded from natural calamities such as crop failure due to droughts and so forth.

The great devastation caused by the tidal wave and hurricane which hit St. Helena Island in 1893, destroying crops and livestock and killing over 2,000 persons, was also a major event, and remembered by Gullah as a reference point in historical time, part of the living history of the Gullahs. [15] The velocity of the wind prevented them from talking refuge on the limbs of the trees, and in the darkness of night they drowned and were never seen again.[16] Ben Mack, the oldest man on the Island at 105, died in 1984, but before he died, he passed on the event, recording it in a song, recounting all the things that were destroyed by the storm.[17]

Remembered in relationship to the storm of 1911 was an African, turnip-like vegetable called Tania by the local people, which disappeared after this storm.  “We had an old-fashioned thing that came from Africa called Tania. . . It had elephant ear-like leaf and on the bottom was something like turnip. . . It came from Africa, mine Ma Ma used to grow it. . . This crop vanished after the 1911 storm.  Everything vanished and it don’t grow no more.”[18]

In the Georgia Sea Islands the people were also familiar with Tania.  One informant interviewed in regard to African-born remembered that he [the African] “ate funny kine uh food.  Roas wile locus an mushruhm an Tanya root.  It lak elephant-eah and tase like Irish potatuh.”[19] In identifying this African root plant we know that Tania is a root plant that appears to be indigenous to Central Africa.  There are two known varieties; old coco-yam (colocasia antiquorum) called Tania in Central Africa, eddo in the West Indies, koko in Ghana and in Nigeria.  Coco-yam (Tania) probably originated in the Kongo basin as one the indigenous foodstuffs.  The earliest citation in reference to Tania on the African continent was made by the Portuguese in the 15th century.[20] The other variety is called coco-yam Tania (Xanthosoma Sagitifolium).[21]

Similarly to how their African ancestors recounted their age the Gullah also calculated their age in a similar manner.  Age was not numerically calculated but was recorded in relationship to episodic events such as the “Big Gun Shoot.”  Eva L. Ver Dier taking the Census among the Gullah in 1932 noted that “the coastal Negro does not date time by Anno Domini, but from events of great excitement of danger.  Instead of “gun shoot” days the "younger ones reckon from the 1886 earthquake and still younger ones from the 1893 storm when over 2,000 of them lost their lives in this section.”[22]

Today these old plantation locations are now used to measure time and distance.  For example, “I am going to Tombee” translates location, time and measurement of distance. One person related that “when I tell my wife that I am going to Wallace Plantation she knows that I will be gone for 40 minutes because it takes 20 minutes there and 20 minutes back by auto.”[23] The local population still identifies the area according to the old plantation location.  There are about 50 plantation locations used to locate distance and the time it will take to arrive at a given point and location.

The locations of the old plantations are used as reference points that reflect location, time and distance.  The plantations include: Corner’s Plantation, Coffin Plantation, Cedar Grove, Pine Grove, (Thomas Aston Coffin) (Robert) Fuller Plantation, Oak Plantation, 66 Acres, Eustis Plantation, Hazel Farm, Wallace Plantation, Tombee (Tom B. Chaplin) Jenkins’ Croof, Cuffie, Mary Jenkins, Daniel Jenkins, William Jenkins, (Gabriel) Caspers, Edding Point, (Joseph D. Eddings) Hope’s, Pope Plantation (Joseph J. Pope) Edgar Fripp, Oliver Fripp Plantation, John Fripp, Tom Fripp, and Ann Fripp to name a few.

Oral tradition, folktales, folksongs and spirituals were vital in retaining African influence from generation to generation. Slavery reinforced oral tradition by preventing Afro-Americans from learning to read and write, which actually helped to preserve this African tradition of oral history. The slaves used their spirituals as a vehicle of communication. In other words, they had a dual function as an information center, a kind of “grapevine system of communication.”

The Gullah, like their African ancestors, acknowledges time as an unbroken circle. From birth, adulthood to death is the completion of life’s circle. Death, as in the African context, is not final but a new beginning; unlike the European conception is a final act that expresses a break with community of the living. In the Gullah concept of time in the circle of life the dead still have an impact on the community of the living as in to the African ancestral cults.  South Carolina’s ministers continually invoke the spirits of the dead and those who have passed on because their “presence is still felt.”[24] In other words, there exists continuity between the community of the living and the dead. For as long as an ancestor [a person] can be remembered he or she will continue to have an impact on the community of the living.

Also, the oral transmission of one’s lineage is extremely important in the Sea Islands, as it is in the African tradition.  Kinship is most often established through oral transmission as opposed to birth certificates.  In short, one is expected to know his or her family lineage.  Younger persons often undergo seemingly intense interrogation by Island residents who might wish to know their family affiliation.  This is how kinship relationships have been established and this gives a sense of community over time.

Africanisms in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida are direct cultural links to the traditions and history of Africa.  The various ethnic groups depending on their numbers, either absorbed the less represented groups, or were assimilated by the larger cultural groups, specifically the Bantu. In spite of this blending over time, distinct African characteristics from each ethnic group survived, at least to some extent; this is evidenced in the language, rituals and crafts of the African Americans from the Sea Islands. The concept of time and the oral tradition are common to all tribal groups; a shared heritage that survived the Middle Passage and gave a sense of continuity and kinship to a culturally uprooted and enslaved people.  Today, some 400 years after the beginning of the slave trade, despite acculturation into mainstream American culture, the African link is still manifested in the lifestyle and culture of the Gullah people of the Sea Islands.  where Africa is just off the coast of Georgia and South Carolina.

Puckett observed among the Gullah in 1925 that children of dead parents were passed over the coffin.  This ritual appears not to be of African American origin and there appeared to have been no corresponding African custom.  This practice is not as common as it was in the past years but it is still practiced from Georgetown to Savannah. All my informants recalled witnessing this custom recently.[25] None of the old people knew or remembered why they did this, except a local minister who declared that young children are passed over the coffin of the dead person to prevent the spirit of the parent or loved one from entering the body of the child.  “If the child is very young and don’t understand what has happened their soul is still without identity and the dead spirit can enter the body of the child causing it harm.  Children can hear the voices of the dead, especially if they were close to the individual which had died.”[26]

Recently his daughter was found walking down a country road about the same time her grandfather had died.  She was found by a niece wandering in the wilderness and was questioned as to where was she going.  “Granddaddy called me.!”  She replied.  The elders were consulted about how to deal with this problem.  Their solution was based on what had worked in the past.

They revealed that this was a very serious problem and instructed that the child would have to attend the funeral because she was in danger until the funeral was over. “Kids don’t understand what death is all about and because the child is younger their spirit is not as strong as the dead.  The child has to witness the funeral and be shown where the grandfather is going—down into the ground.”  Therefore, the child is passed over the coffin to separate the spirits—the point when the child is passed over the coffin signals the separation of the two spirits.[27] Two other children who did not attend the funeral and were not passed over the coffin experienced serious psychological problems for about six months in adjustment to the grandfather’s death.

This custom has been recently identified as originating among the Ubani in West Africa.  This same custom is today found in Bonny and Opobo and has remained almost identical in form and meaning, as we shall now see.  An informant from Opobo remembered this custom performed when her grandfather died in the 1960s.  She recalled that at the funeral the great-grand and grandchildren were passed over the coffin.  The ceremony was performed by her cousin, who passed the children from one end of the coffin to the other.  One of the children, as she was being passed over the coffin landed on top of the coffin began to scream.  The whole community was upset with this very serious error in custom and tradition.[28]

The children were passed over the coffin so that the spirit of the dead would not be attached to the children such that it would keep visiting them.  Visitation by the dead loved ones to the children is a serious matter because the children could become alarmed and because they are too young to understand they might become ill and die.  This rite is performed to sever the bond between the dead person and the living children.  This is done as an act of love and to keep the spirit from coming back into the house.  Once the child is passed over the coffin this signals a break in the close bond between the dead loved one and the living relative, so that the spirit will go on its and not come back and visit the children.  This rite is performed for the sake of the children whose spirit is weak and not yet fully developed like an adult.  The person who has passed could love the child so much that they might want to take the child with them.[29]

This phenomenon of passing children over the coffin is still practiced by the Gullahs of South Carolina and by the Ibani of Bonny and Opobo in West Africa.  In the historical literature, Bonny was one of the major ports from where Africans found their way to North America.  This custom is found in Africa and South Carolina and is completely intact.  This suggests that this custom was first introduced into the Sea Islands by the Ubani Bonny.

A close examination of slave importation records into South Carolina show that a total of 1,975 Africans arrived from Bonny in 1739.[30] This year was very significant because it was the year of the Stono Rebellion and South Carolinians refused to import Angolans who were brought into the South Carolina Colony as planters temporarily turned from Central Africa to West Africa exclusively.

There were no substantial imports of Africans from Bonny until 1800 when there were again intense slave activities in the Bonny area between 1800 to 1807 just prior to the closing of the legal slave trade.  Shipments identified as arriving from Bonny Ports by Elizabeth Donnan were 530 Africans in 1805 [31] and only 368 Africans in 1807.[32] These figures show that the core group of Africans from Bonny arrived in 1739. This suggests that the transportation and foundation for this particular custom carryover sometime started in 1739 when the majority of Ibanis imported into South Carolina arrived from the nation of Bonny.


[1] Interview with Sam Doyle, South Carolina, St. Helena, 1984.

[2] Eva L. Ver Dier, “When Gun Shoot: Some Experiences While Taking the Census Among the Low Country Negroes of South Carolina.”  Beaufort Township Library, Beaufort, South Carolina, 1932 p. 3-4

[3] Patricia Jones-Jackson, When Roots Die: Endangered Traditions (University of Georgia Press, 1987) p.x.

[4] Personal communication with Sam Doyle, Elizabeth Glenn and Maggie Smalls of St. Helena, January 19, 1984.

[5] Op. Cit., interview Sam Doyle.

[6] Edith M. Dabbs, Sea Island Diary: A History of St. Helena (South Carolina, 1983) p. 171.

[7] Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Army Life in a Black Regiment (Boston, 1890) p. 40; reprinted by Beacon Press, 1962

[8] Personal interview with Mrs. Bernice Brooks in Los Angeles on 8/3/83.

[9] Juanita Jackson, Sabra Slaughter and J. Herman Blake, “New Research in Black Culture: The Sea Islands as a Cultural Resource,” in Black Scholar (March 1, 1974); Du Bois, Suppression of the transatlantic trade to the United States of America 1638-1870 (New York, 1896) p. 181

[10] Personal communication with Emory Campbell, Director of the Penn Center on the Island of St. Helena.  Interview conducted on Hilton Head Island in January of 1984.

[11] Laura Towne, Diary (Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill N.C.); Rupert S. Holland, Letters and Diary of Laura M. Towne, written from the Sea Islands of South Carolina, 1862-1884  (Cambridge: Riverside Press, 1912)  Laura Town miscellaneous.

[12] Op. Cit., Interview with Sam Doyle.

[13] Op. Cit., Du Bois p. 129.

[14] Jan Vansina, Oral Tradition: A Study in Historical Methodology (London, 1961).

[15] Op. Cit., Sam Doyle; Elizabeth Glenn; Maggie Smalls.  According to Dabbs Sea Island Diary the number of residents that died in the storm was a total of 3,000.

[16] Duncan Clinch Heyward, Seed from Madagascar (South Carolina, 1937) p. 122.

[17] Recording master tape Mr. Ben Mack, August, 1972.  Penn Community Center Tape Archive.  St. Helena, Frogmore, South Carolina.

[18] Op. Cit., Sam Doyle.

[19] Drum and Shadow: Survival Studies Among the Georgia Coastal Negroes (Athens, 1940) p.71.

[20] Sir Harry Johnston, George Grenfell and the Congo (London: Hutchinson Co., 1908) p. 600, vol. II.

[21] F. R. Irvine, A Text-Book of West African Agriculture Soils, Oxford University Press (London: Humphrey Milford, 1934) pp. 135-141.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Personal Interview with Mr. Leroy Brown on St Helena on January 24, 1984.

[24] Interview with Reverend Ervin L. Greene, pastor of the historic Brick Baptist Church in Beauford, South Carolina on January 16, 1984.

[25] Claude and Pat Sharpe local linguists living in the areas witnessed this custom taking place at a local funeral.  They refused to identify the individual.  Later, I found out that the individual in question was the Reverend Green the minister of the historic Brick Baptist Church.  His step father had died, and at his funeral this custom was observed because his grandchildren who were very close to him saw his spirit at the moment of his death.  One granddaughter told Rev. Greene that granddaddy had just died.  He phoned his mother and found out that his step father had indeed died.  He consulted the elders of the community in regard to what it all meant.  They instructed him that this was an extremely serious matter, and that at the funeral the children would have to be passed over the coffin in order to separate their spirits from that of the grandfather.  I interviewed Rev. Greene about this important matter, and he informed me that “when in doubt you always observed the custom, so you don’t have to worry later by second guessing.”

[26] Personal interview with Rev. Ervin L. Greene Jr. in Beaufort, South Carolina Pastor of the historic Brick Baptist Church on January 16, 1984.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Interview with Ruby Iyman, who was born in Opobo, Nigeria [River States] on January 1, 1954.  She was interviewed in 1984 at the University of California at Los Angeles.

[29] Ibid.

[30] W. Robert Higgins, “The Geographical Origins of Negro Slaves in Colonial South Carolina.”  Pp. 40-41

[31] Elizabeth Donnan, Documents Illustrative of the History of the Slave Trade to America: Volume IV The Border Colonies and the Southern Colonies (Washington D. C. 1935) p. 588

[32] Ibid.  p. 21