Request for Gullah Geechee Citizenship in Sierra Leone

Request for Gullah Geechee Citizenship in Sierra Leone

22 January 2021
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Signatures: 847Next Goal: 1,000
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Why this petition matters

Gullah Nation Of North America 

We are the Gullah Geechee people of North America and we have both historic and familial connections related to the people, culture, and land of modern-day Sierra Leone, West Africa.

Not only were unknown thousands of our shared lineage ancestors sold into the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade at Bunce Island destined for Charleston, South Carolina but the Republic of Sierra Leone's capital city of Freetown is also undeniably the first settlement on the African continent established by formerly enslaved Africans from the United States of America (modern-day African Americans) in 1792. Hence, the basis for the 2019 International Sister City relationship formed by the Mayors of Freetown and Charleston.

Many of those who became the founding fathers of Freetown had fought on the British side of the American Revolution for the promise of freedom and land, before returning to Africa and birthing the Krio community of Sierra Leone. Hundreds of them were originally born and enslaved in the southern states of South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia before being evacuated to Nova Scotia from Charleston and New York.

A third of those that resettled in Canada became disgruntled with the unfulfilled promises and ultimately nearly 1200 made the exodus back to Africa, with over 500 hailing from plantations throughout the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor states. Although most were born into chattel slavery, at least 50 of the founding repatriates were born in Africa and returned, crisscrossing the Atlantic in a lifetime.

Gullah Geechee people recognize the contributions of several historic figures related to the founding and early development of colonial Freetown:

- Thomas Peters, the true founder of Freetown was born in West Africa and eventually enslaved in Wilmington, North Carolina, and became part of the Gullah Geechee community and culture, before leading the mass migration movement from Nova Scotia, Canada to Sierra Leone

- John Kizzle was born in Sierra Leone, enslaved in South Carolina where he became part of the Gullah Geechee community and culture. He was believed to be an ethnic Sherbro prior to enslavement and reunited with his people when he returned

- Edward Jones was a Gullah Geechee educator from Charleston, SC who became the first Principal of the historic Fourah Bay College in Freetown, Sierra Leone in 1824

- David George was a Gullah Geechee preacher from South Carolina that gave the first recorded Baptist sermon in Africa in Freetown

In 1988 Sierra Leone President Joseph Saidu Momoh went on an official state visit to South Carolina to initiate reconnection between Sierra Leone[ans] and Gullah Geechee kinfolks in America. Having visited South Carolina State University in Orangeburg before ventured on to Penn Center on St Helena Island, he was able to observe the resemblances of our people, cultural heritage, and distinct English based Creole language and formally invited a distinguished group of verifiable Gullah Geechee leaders to "Mama Salone" for the first 1989 Gullah Homecoming in modern history.

To date there have been several official Gullah Homecomings, culminating in the most recent pilgrimage of 50 verifiable Gullah Geechee's in 2019, the largest single group to date (not including the ancestors who were amongst the founding settlers of Freetown).

On July 2, 2015, a group of verifiable Gullah Geechee elders and youth officially founded the Gullah Nation Of North America (GNONA) community association, an incorporated nonprofit organization with the ultimate objectives to unify and uplift Gullah Geechee people regardless of where we were born or reside around the world.
History of GNONA

On July 17, 2015, through the initiative of our GNONA International Ambassador domiciled in the capital city of Freetown, with the mandate of the late Paramount Chief, the Gullah Redemption Mission Sierra Leone (GRM-SL) was officially launched for the expressed purpose of redeeming the special relationship between Gullah Geechee people and Sierra Leone.

In 2016, GNONA members were present and actively involved in the initial discussion with the Sierra Leone Monuments & Relics Commission that spearheaded the process for African Americans and others who have a verifiable lineage and cultural heritage ties (Gullah Geechee, African Ancestry and other DNA tested Sierra Leonean descendants) to gain citizenship rights in Sierra Leone. At the time only Hollywood actor Isaiah Washington had obtained his dual citizenship and passport via African Ancestry DNA test results and there was admittedly no official process for others to reclaim their birthright.

Since 2016, citizenship has been granted to nearly 30 African Americans based solely on African Ancestry DNA test results, while the same right has not been recognized nor granted to Gullah Geechee or individuals with genetic evidence of Sierra Leonean ancestry that used companies other than African Ancestry.

Please take a moment to support this cause
There is power in numbers and now is the time to come together as one community with a single voice, as we appeal to His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio and the people of the Republic of Sierra Leone on behalf of verifiable Gullah Geechee.
Hence, we are asking everyone who supports the cause of Gullah Geechee Citizenship in Sierra Leone to please sign this petition and spread the word.

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Signatures: 847Next Goal: 1,000
Support now