History passed down through dance in Riceboro

By Dawn Baker - email | bio

RICEBORO, GA (WTOC) - Coastal Georgia and South Carolina are both rich in history. Throughout the month we're going to take you to a unique place in Riceboro called the Geechee Kunda, an African cultural center. It's one of the best kept secrets around. It's where WTOC found the Georgia Geechee Gullah Shouters performing.

The Georgia Geechee Gullah Shouters is made of five generations of dancers. "We pride ourselves on passing this down as we are getting older everything that we know," said Griffin Lotson, one of the original members of the Georgia Geechee Gullah Shouters.

Lotson gave an example of a dance form that goes all the back to Africa. It's called The Ring Shout and was brought by slaves when they came America. It involves moving in a counterclockwise circle, singing, clapping, stomping and beating on the floor with a stick or broom.

It's a blend of African and American traditions. "We have our stick man here and the beat that he is going to give us itself comes from Africa. The words that we sing came from America back during slavery and even the clothes including the shout the circle comes from Africa," explains Lotson.

"We hear that rhythm we talk about the spiritual traditions of African people. That's what it is tied to because the shout gives rise to what are called shout songs. They later give rise to what we know as spirituals that then give rise to blues that then give rise to rhythm and blues and eventually hip hop. Again you see the connections and the traditions being kept alive through the dancers," explains noted historian Jamal Toure'.

Copyright 2010 WTOC. All rights reserved.