Today on the blog, singer-songwriter James Frost contemplates a form of song that brings and binds souls together.
There is a tribe in East Africa in which the art of true intimacy is fostered even before birth.
In this tribe, the birth date of a child is not counted from the day of its physical birth nor even from the day of conception, as in other village cultures. For this tribe, the birth date comes the first time the child is thought in the mother’s mind.
Aware of her intention to conceive a child with a particular father, the mother then goes off to sit alone under a tree. There she sits and listens until she can hear the song of the child that she hopes to conceive. Once she has heard it, she returns to her village and teaches it to the father so that they can sing it together as they make love, inviting the child to join them.
After the child is conceived, she sings to the baby in the womb. Then she teaches it to the old women and midwives of the village, so that throughout the labour and at the miraculous moment of birth itself, the child is greeted with its song.
After the birth all the villagers learn the song of their new member and sing it to the child when it falls or hurts itself. It is sung in times of triumph, or in rituals and initiations. The song becomes a part of the marriage ceremony when the child is grown, and at the end of life, his or her loved ones will gather around the deathbed and sing this song for the last time.
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