02/14/02
A Valentine for the Newborns
    by John Cech

You're hearing the Baka Pygmie people from the forests of Cameroon with parents teaching their children a nursery rhyme about what the heart says. This is their community's ancient way of sending a kind of valentine to all the children in the tribe. It's on a CD titled "Welcoming Children Into the World," from Ellen Kushner's remarkable Public Radio program, "Sound and Spirit." In this lovely, deeply affecting collection of songs from around the world, Ms. Kushner reminds us how vital and necessary this act of welcoming is, when we give a child her or his first name, when we honor, as a Sephardic Jewish folksong does, the heroic efforts of women in childbirth, when we annouce a new baby's presence by flying a kite from the roof of our house (as is done in Japan), by planting a fruit tree (a European custom), or by imparting a philosophy of parenting, as Sweet Honey in the Rock does with Kahlil Gibran's text:

In the end, of course, as we welcome these new lives into our world, we are also welcoming the transformations they will bring. "That's Life," Henri Dikongué sings: "It is as if I were never born before this infant ... Everything seems beautiful, everything seems light, As if the world had changed."

Copyright © 2002 by John Cech

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Wednesday, 04-Sep-2002 22:21:41 EDT


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