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Praise House

The Praise House served as a place of spiritual outlet where fast-paced rhythmic hand clapping accompanied ring shout (spiritual) songs while participants moved counterclockwise in a circle, making certain never to cross their feet. Aspects of the ring shout are related to the communal dances found in many West African traditions. The word shout is thought to be derived from saut, a West African word of Arabic origin that describes an Islamic religious movement performed to exhaustion.

Because of isolation, islanders policed themselves. Therefore, the praise house also functioned as a place where disputes among neighbors, husbands, and wives, and community members would be solved. Elders would gather the disputing parties together and mediate a resolution to the problems or issues.

The Praise House is an aspect of West African heritage that has survived at each stage of the circle of African existence on the Sea Islands along with rice, language, and spirituality persisting as cultural threads well into the twenty-first century. Therefore Geechee/Gullah culture on the Sea Islands has retained a heritage that spans two continents.

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