One of the most enlightening, enriching and heartfelt moments of the Gullah Geechee “Path to Freedom tour” was our visit to Geechee Kunda in Riceboro, GA. It was discovered by Coach Atiba doing his reconnaissance mission planning the tour. Founded by Jim and Pat Bacote, the Kunda is a haven of peace and love just off the East Coast Greenway. A sanctuary to all who walk onto the property. Kunda has many definitions, several of them from India. But it was Jim’s definition that centered around the word meaning a compound. Meaning Geechee Kunda is a Geechee compound.
A select number of youth were lined up and given an object of their trade: rice, iron, milk, flour to name a few. One youth represented 100 in a community. A few other youth were given the task of being slave traders. As the slave traders conspired one by one the youth villagers were taken. Each time the impact on the community of villages and trade among them was explained. The skills of the people from one place were being plucked away to reluctantly start a new nation.
After a day’s ride the youth were welcomed by Jim and Pat at the pathway to the front door of their home. They built the Kunda around their spacious property which houses a museum and an interpretation center. After the interpretations, the youth enjoyed a drum sessions where they were able to delight in the beauty of music making and revelry.
They were given a talk by one of the “elders” in the new Geechee community and the youth were enraptured by her stories. The full day ended with a low country boil dinner of crab, potatoes and shrimp, among other things. With the overnight stay and the loving conversation the name Geechee Kunda was imprinted on the hearts, minds and lips of every youth present. Our leaving the next morning was bittersweet, taking longer than it should have but as long as it needed.
I have taken words from the Geechee Kunda website as it explains the reason behind its origin and every word is the truth:
Geechee Kunda is one of the most impactful and meaningful cultural education facilities to be found anywhere, a true lifetime experience. Geechee Kunda is our way of dispelling the non-sense that ours is a dying, faltering culture, and to help insure that instead of being written out of history, be included in a true light. Included here are exhibit galleries, a gift shop, a family research center, and most importantly, an ongoing research and documentation effort.
Geechee Kunda was created as our means of contributing to efforts to preserve and perpetuate the knowledge of important elements of African Culture that exists in the United States. We are also interested in assisting in nurturing and perpetuating threatened cultural traditions elsewhere in the Americas and Africa itself.