It used to be our tribal way where the birth date of a child was counted not from when they were born, nor from when they were conceived but from the day that the child was a thought in the mother’s mind. And when a woman decided that she would have a child, she would go off and sit under a tree, by herself, and she would listen until she could hear the song of the child that wanted to come. And after she’d heard the song of this child, she would come back to the man who would be the child’s father, and teach it to him. And then, when they made love to physically conceive the child, some of that time they would sing the song of the child, as a way to invite it.
When the mother was pregnant, the mother would teach that child’s song to the midwives and the old women of the village, so that when the child was born, the old women and the people around her would sing the child’s song to welcome it. As the child grew, the other villagers were taught the child’s song. If the child fell, or hurt its knee, someone would pick it up and sing its song to it. Or perhaps the child did something wonderful, or went through the rites of puberty, then as a way of honouring this person, the people of the village would sing his or her song.
In the old tribal ways there was one other occasion upon which the villagers would sing to the child. If at any time during his or her life, the person committed a crime or aberrant social act, the individual was called to the center of the village and the people in the community would form a circle around them. Then they would sing their song to them.
The tribe recognized that the correction for antisocial behaviour was not punishment; it was love and the remembrance of identity. When you recognized your own song, you had no desire or need to do anything that would hurt another.
And it went this way through their life. In marriage, the songs were sung, together. And finally, when this child would lay in bed, ready to die, all the villagers knew his or her song, and they would sing – for the last time – the song to that person.
You may not have grown up in a tribe that sings your song to you at crucial life transitions, but life is always reminding you when you are in tune with yourself and when you are not. When you feel good, what you are doing matches your song, and when you feel awful, it doesn’t. In the end, we should all recognize our song and sing it well. You may feel a little warbly at the moment, but so have all the great singers. Just keep singing and you’ll find your way home.
This story was adapted for EVE Online by Roc Wieler. It is based on an actual African tribe that observes this custom.