Bailey, Cornelia Walker. God, Dr. Buzzard, and The Bolito Man. Anchor Books, 2000. 344p. $16.95. 978-0-385-49377-2.
I read God, Dr. Buzzard, and The Bolito Man in preparation for an NEH Gullah workshop in July of 2013. After literally sitting at Ms. Bailey’s feet underneath the canopy of a giant oak tree, and hearing her Gullah story, I reread the novel. It is a must for all Southerners trying to make peace with their past and discover who they really are.
Bailey paints her youth on Sapelo Island, Georgia in such a manner that the reader feels every injustice and victory in her Gullah community. Through her conversational tone and Southern voice, she introduces us to her family, Miss Katie, the Reynold’s family, Dr. Buzzard, the Bolito Man, and her God. Strong verbs and accurate and vivid descriptions implore her readers to not only soak up her people’s history, but to ensure the Gullah’s future. Big condos can not be allowed to buy up her island and other Gullah islands. People must be educated on this culture’s past and their opportunities for the future.
The last quote of the book says it all, “The spirits will watch over us and over the island through the dark night as we search for the first rays of light in the sky at day-clean. They will keep on watching in all the days to come, they will watch until Gabriel blows his horn and everyone rises facing the East. This I believe, because it’s what the old people believed.”