At the 29th annual Original Gullah Festival in Beaufort on Saturday, St. Helena Island resident Marquetta Goodwine dramatically retold the history of the Gullah people.
Her reverent tone was clear, even if her exact words -- spoken in Gullah -- were not.
Goodwine, known in the Gullah/Geechee Nation as Queen Quet, then led the audience at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park in a libation ceremony that honors Gullah ancestors. She splashed water on the festival stage as she named prominent forebears, followed each time by the word "ashe," an affirmation similar to "amen."
The annual festival is all about remembering, she and event organizers repeatedly reminded the crowd.
"This festival belongs to all of us. It's all of our responsibility to keep this going and keep it vibrant for our children," said Anita Singleton-Prather, a Sea Islands native and educator, historian and actress. Prather is also the curriculum coordinator for the Education of Gullah Culture Through the Arts program in the Beaufort County School District.
The weekend-long festival, which began Friday and ends Sunday, features traditional Gullah storytelling, dancing, singing and cuisine.
There was also an educational segment on Friday and Saturday called "Lest We Forget," in which festivalgoers could attend panel discussions and presentations about the Gullah people, who are descendants from slaves brought to the Sea Islands from West Africa.
"We have to learn to value our culture," Prather said. And be willing to help fund efforts to preserve it, she added.
Festival organizers are hoping to preserve Gullah heritage and appeal to younger generations by utilizing social media platforms as well.
Thomas Roy Hicks Jr., the executive director of the festival, reminded people on Saturday to "like" the Gullah Festival Facebook page, and to follow the organization on Twitter and on Snapchat.
Parents play a role, too, of course.
Harold Duckett of Greenville brought his 5-year-old daughter, Seirea, to the festival on Saturday because he wants her to start learning about Gullah history and black history in general, he said.
Duckett has been coming to Beaufort for the Gullah festival for the past 20 years to "feel a connection" to Gullah heritage. He wants Seirea to be familiar with it as well, he said.
"Children need to know the history."
Follow reporter Erin Shaw at twitter.com.IPBG_ErinShaw.