Home Lifestyle The sacred song of each child in the Himba tribe

The sacred song of each child in the Himba tribe


A MIND-BLOWING fascination and a deep feeling of admiration was how I felt the very first time I read the story about this tribe in South Africa. It was written by my inspirational American client, Ellen Merrel, who is also a wellbeing coach and a fantastic writer. I asked for her permission to share her amazing story in my column, that she delightfully granted. Here it goes:

In the Himba tribe of Namibia in Southern Africa, the date of the birth of a child is fixed, not on the time when he was born, but much earlier. It is set on the date when it was conceived in the mother’s mind, of desiring for a child.

When a woman decides she’s going to have a child, she settles down, rests under a tree, listens and wait, until the moment, she could hear the song of the child who wants to be born.  After she hears the child’s song, she goes to the man who will father the child and teach him the song. While they make love, to physically design the child, they sing the song of the child together, to invite him. In Marriage, the couple songs are sung together happily, by their guests.

When the woman gets pregnant, she teaches the song and melody of this child to the midwives and to the older women of the village. On the day when the child is physically born, all the tribe people gather around the baby, to welcome him and sing his song. 

As the time goes by and the child grows, the other villagers try to learn his song. So that, if the child falls or gets hurt from playing or from an accident, he will always find someone to pick him up and sing his song, to comfort and heal. Similarly, if the child does something wonderful, like successfully passes through the rites passage, the people of the village sing his song to honor him.

If, at any time during his life, the person commits an aberrant crime or an unbecoming social act, the individual is called in the center of the village and the people of the community form a circle around him. After which, they sing his song, continuously, until he returns to his genuine self.

The tribe recognizes that the correction of antisocial behavior should not pass-through punishment, instead, through love and the reminder of his true identity. When you recognize your own song and its holy intention, you realized and refrain from doing anything that would harm yourself and others, throughout your life. 

As the kid gets older, lying on his bed, ready to die, all the villagers who know his song, sing his song to him, for the last time.

Photo credit: Chris McLennan


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