By Allyson Reynolds, The Brunswick News, Ga.
The 10th annual IGBO Worldwide Festival of Arts and Culture will memorialize Igbo Landing by presenting culture, art, music and language on Friday and Saturday at Selden Park.
The event will have performances from Georgia Gullah Geechee Ring Shouters, authentic Nigerian food, vendors, art exhibits and the Naming Ceremony.
Spokesperson Jessica Jenkins said many are familiar with the quote from “Black Panther” — “Just bury me in the ocean with my ancestors that jumped from the ships because they knew death was better than bondage” — but not where it originates.
Igbo captives from West Africa arrived in 1803 on Dunbar Creek on a slave ship, according to the Igbo Landing historical marker. There are different versions of this resistance to enslavement.
While the historical marker reads, “It is believed that at least ten Igbo drowned, choosing death over enslavement,” Gullah Geechee descendants suggest the legend that the Igbo flew back home to freedom.
“With history being rewritten so many times, so much information has been left out or miswrote, so it’s just a chance for everybody to — don’t let this die,” Jenkins said about preserving tradition.
Attendees will visit Igbo Landing in the morning.
Eze Chukwuemeka Eri, the traditional ruler of Eri, will lead the Naming Ceremony. It is believed that the Igbo people descended from Eri, a community in Aguleri, Nigeria. Jenkins says names describe their personalities and will be given to Igbo descendants who attend.
The Georgia Gullah Geechee Ring Shouters will perform hymns and dances in an effort to preserve the movements and language from their ancestors. Jenkins said they do a great job of remembering and commemorating their history.
“It just gives you a touch of Igbo and history that they had in Nigeria (and) how they tried to keep some of that even though they were stripped from it trying to be enslaved. They just want to keep some of that alive,” Jenkins said.
Since she has learned the language of Gullah, she says, she has learned the reason behind the way she speaks.
“It gives a sense of purpose of who I am, where I came from (and) why I do the things I do,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins said she hopes the event encourages locals to dig deeper into the history of the land they live on and to learn about their ancestry.
She said learning about her ancestors has helped her understand her identity.
“Get more of a sense of where you are because it happened right here on St. Simons Island, and we go to the island all the time. … To know the history that’s there, I think is very important for everybody,” she said.
Both days are all-day events. Jenkins said participants plan to leave Selden Park at 9 a.m. to visit the Igbo Landing Historic Place on St. Simons Island, and guests should plan to arrive around 8:30 a.m. with personal transportation. The events are free and open to the public.