Your Song: Lessons from an African Tribe

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When a woman of a certain African tribe knows she is pregnant, goes to the jungle with other women, and together they pray and meditate until they learn “The song of the child.” When a child is born, the community gets together and they sing their song. When the child begins his education, people get together and he sings his song. When he becomes an adult, they get together again and sing. At his wedding, the person hears his song again. Finally, when the soul is leaving this world, family and friends are gathering and just like during his birth, sing their song to accompany him in the “journey”. In this African tribe, there is another occasion when the people sing the song. If at some point the person commits a crime or becomes aberrant is taken to the centre of the village and the people of the community form a circle around him. Then they sing “his song.” The tribe recognizes that the correction for antisocial behaviour is not punishment, is the love and memory of his true identity. When we recognize our own song, we have no desire or need to hurt anyone. Your friends know “your song” and sing when you forget it. Those who love you cannot be fooled by mistakes you have committed, or dark images you show to others. They remember your beauty as you feel ugly, your wholeness when you’re broken, your innocence when you feel guilty and your purpose when you’re confused.

Tolba Phanem
African poet

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