The following excerpts from the movie "Daughters of the Dust" were chosen for their poignancy and their ability to convey how important the original African traditions and heritage are to the Gullah people. Approximate times are given from the beginning of the film, not the video tape.
Eli's loss of faith | Haagar dismisses "old ways"
00:15.44 Eli and Nana talk about his loss of faith
( Nana Peazant is cleaning weeds from the family plot when Eli approaches
her from behind.
Eli bends over to place a kiss on her forehead.)
Whoís that? Whatíre you children up to now? Get on with you, son, or help me clean away these weeds.
Just because weíre crossing over to the mainland, it doesnít mean that we donít love you. It doesnít mean weíre not going to miss you. And it doesnít mean weíre not going to come home and visit with you soon.
Eli Peazant, if you donít stop grinning at me Ö Itís not right to tease old folks, especially your great-grandmother. Youíre lucky Iíve got breath in me yet. You old goober-head. (teasing him) "Goober Head". We used to call you "goober head." Remember that? Goober means peanut.
(Eli digs into his vest pocket.)
Whatís this? Something seems to be stuck in here.
You know your granddaddy Shad didnít like to see a woman chewing tobacco. Ainít that so? You know thatís so.
(Eli hands Nana tobacco and she cradles it in her blue-stained hands.)
I visit with old Peazant every day since the day he died. Itís up to the living to keep in touch with the dead, Eli. Manís power doesnít end with death. We just move on to a new place, a place where we watch over our living family Ö Respect your elders! Respect your family! Respect your ancestors! Youíre worried that baby Eulaís carrying isnít yours because she got forced. Eli, you wonít ever have a baby that wasnít sent to you. The ancestors and the womb Ö theyíre one, theyíre the same. Those in this grave, like those whoíre across the sea, theyíre with us. Theyíre all the same. The ancestors and the womb are one. Call on your ancestors, Elli. Let them guide you. You need their strength. Eli, I need you to make the family strong again, like we used to be.
How can you understand me and the way I feel? This happened to my wife. My wife! I donít feel like sheís mine anymore. When I look at her, I feel I donít want her anymore.
You canít give back what you never owned. Eula never belonged to you, she married you.
Why didnít you protect us, Nana? Did someone put the fix on me? Was it the conjure? Or bad Luck? Or were the old souls too deep in their graves to give a damn about my wife while some stranger was riding her. When we were children, we really believed you could work the good out of evil. We believed in the newsprint on the walls Ö Your tree of glass jars and bottles Ö The rice you carried in your pockets. We believed in the frizzled-haired chickens. The coins, the roots and the flowers. We believed they would protect us and every little thing we owned or loved. I wasnít scared of anything, because I knew Ö, I knew, my great-grandmother had it all in her pocket, or could work it up.
Eli, never forget who we are, and how far weíve come.
I have to leave here. I donít have any other choice.
Eli Ö Eli! Thereís a thought Ö a recollection Ö something somebody remembers. We carry these memories inside of us. Do you believe that hundreds and hundreds of Africans brought here on this other side would forget everything they once knew? We donít know where the recollections come from. Sometimes we dream them. But we carry these memories inside of us.
Whatíre we supposed to remember, Nana? How, at one time, we were able to protect those we loved? How, in Africa world, we were kings and queens and built great big cities?
Eli, Ö Iím trying to teach you how to touch your won spirit. Iím fighting for my life, Eli, and Iím fighting for yours. Look in my face! Iím trying to give you something to take North with you, along with all your great big dreams.
00:53.21 Haagar and Viola talk about Nana and the old ways
(The Peazant women are on the beach preparing for the picnic.)
Old people think they have all the answers. (Laughing out loud) Carrying around that tin can Ö I donít ever think I saw her without it.
(Haagar holds up Yellow Maryís tin can of Uneeda Biscuits.)
We ought to save this can for Eula. Sheís about as crazy as Nana Peazant. Sometime, I think that old woman is not in her right mind.
(Haagar and the Hairbraider laugh loudly. The other Peazant women are uneasy. They feel Haagar is being disrespectful to an elder.)
Haagar Peazant, Ö thatís an old woman youíre laughing at. Just like Eula, you married into this family, but sheís our grandmother. There is nothing wrong or harmful in that tin can she carries, just some old Ö
HAAGAR AND HAIRBRAIDER (interrupting in unison, theyíve heard this before)
"Scraps of memoriesÖ"
Now, Iíll be the first to admit that Nana is carry a lot of old luggage, Ö she needs to put her soul in the hands of the Lord, but she has built her life around this family. Sheís old and sheís frightened. What she know of the world outside? Nothing. Nana was never educated, all she knows are simple things, things that people told her a long time ago.
Thatís why I say Nana Peazant needs to pack her belongings just like the rest of us, and come along. She donít need to stay here like sheís somebody with no people.
HAAGAR (getting evil)
I might not have been born into this family, but Iím here now. And I say, let Nana Peazant stay behind. Thatís what she wants. Weíre moving into a new day, sheís too much a part of the past.
(The women react, even the Hairbraider.)
Donít let Daddy Mac hear your mouth!
Iím a fully grown woman, and I donít have to mind what I say Ö I done born five children into the world and put two in the grave alongside their daddy. I worked all my life and ainít got nothing to show for it, and if I canít say whatís on my mind, then damn everybody to hell.
Mind, now ... , the Lord is listening.
Iím an educated person Ö and Iím tired of Nanaís old stories. Watching her make those root potions Ö and that Hoo doo she talks about. Washing up in the river with her clothes on, just like those old "Salt Water" folks used to do. My children ainít gonna be like those old Africans fresh off the boat. My god, I still remember them. Those old people, they pray to the sun, they pray to the moon, Ö sometimes just to a big star! They ainít got no religion in them. No! This is a new world weíre moving into and I want my daughters to grow up to be decent "somebodies" Ö I donít even want my girls to have to hear about all that mess. Iíll lock horns against anybody, anything that tries to hold me back. Now I say, if Nana Peazant wants to live and die in Ibo Landing, then God Bless her old soul.