Gullah Fun Facts


  • Gullah (GULL uh) is an English-based creole consisting of West African languages, English, & English Caribbean vernacular.
  • Enslaved West Africans were not allowed to learn English formally.  Although they were literate in their native languages, Charlestowne was an English colony; therefore, English was the lingua franca or common language spoken.
  • Gullah is an oral language, so whenever it’s written, it’s the author’s interpretation.  Gullah is usually written phonetically, but if it’s written in English, the pronunciation & pace provide the language’s rhythm & flow.
  • Today, Geechee (GHEE cheah) refers to African American natives of the four-state area described below.
  • Gullah Geechee is a term popularly used today to describe the language, people, traditions & lifeways like foodways, Spiritual customs, occupational & household practices & settlement patterns, for example, that have been passed down through the generations throughout the southeast US coast. 


These are common perceptions, BUT THEY ARE NOT TRUE!!

  • Gullah Geechee people live in remote & secluded communities where visitors can go to observe & interact with residents.
  • Gullah Geechee people live on an island(s) only reachable by boat.
  • Gullah Geechee people’s day-to-day include living & performing tasks like people “did during slavery time”.
  • Gullah Island is located in the Charleston area.
  • Visitors can go to a place named Gullah.
  • Gullah Geechee people are short & dark-skinned.
  • Gullah Geechee people are uneducated & speak broken English.
  • Gullah Geechee people like to eat rice sandwiches.
  • Gullah Geechee people practice magic.
  • Gullah Geechee people only live along the SC & GA coasts & nowhere else in the US or abroad.
  • All South Carolinians & all Georgians are Gullah Geechee.
  • Gullah Geechee people are from Jamaica.
  • Gullah Geechee people will quickly cut or stab a person if they are angered.


Some Gullah Geechee Traditions & Lifeways


  • Breakfast must include grits, & dinner must include rice.
  • When eating crabs, you mustn’t eat the “dead man” (lungs) or you’ll get very sick.
  • A popular one-pot meal is called a “perlo”.  It’s a combo of rice with meat & often vegetables. Shrimp perlo, okra perlo & chicken perlo are favorites.
  • Fried fish & Red Rice are a popular Friday meal. Red Rice is white rice cooked with tomatoes or tomato sauce and traditionally seasoned with green (bell) peppers, onion & pork (often bacon and/or sausage.)


Spiritual & Funerary Customs:

  • Pass an infant over the casket of a family member at the gravesite so that the deceased’s Spirit does not haunt the child.
  • Adult females must wear a hat to church, or other head covering, because the tops of their heads should be covered while in the Sanctuary.
  • After leaving the Funeral, the procession should pass by the home of the deceased en route to the burial so that the deceased’s Spirit doesn’t return to the house.
  • Trimming the windows & painting the doors on one’s house a particular shade of blue keeps away harmful spirits.


General Beliefs:

  • After grooming, any hair left in the comb or brush must be burned or flushed down the commode so that birds or people with harmful intentions don’t get a hold of it.
  • Put some Spanish Moss in your shoes to help keep your blood pressure down.
  • If a bird gets in your house, someone will die soon.
  • If a female keeps her purse on the floor, she’ll never have any money.

Here’s a glimpse at Gullah, & remember, everyone writes it his/her own way since it’s an oral language:

Cum an visit Charleston fa memory datll las a lifetime!  We toe bus, carage, museum, beach, goff cose, restrant, bars, sto an so much mo jes a waitin fa unna.  Hope ta see unna real soon ya?    

English Translation:  Come and visit Charleston for memories that’ll last a lifetime!  Our tour buses, carriages, museums, beaches, golf courses, restaurants, bars, stores and so much more await you.  Hope to see you really soon, ok?