Here is a group of school children from Zimbabwe singing a couple of songs. One commenter on the youtube website said,
“One of the songs they sang means have a safe journey, pretty girl (kinda cute) and another one is talking about the rain and the thunder during a rainstorm (they point in the directions where it would be coming from, east and west).”
As you watch the video, pay attention to the details. Become a ethnographic researcher for just a moment and learn about their world on their terms.
My point in sharing this is that children of every nation, every tribe, every ethnicity, every village and neighborhood understand the languages of play, music and dance. You will notice that it is five children who begin the song. And then, as other children see the camera, the crowd assembles to join in. I suppose part of their interest could be attributed to the presence of the video camera. However, I think something much more fundamental is at work as well. In any station of life, children will discover creative ways to process their experiences through the world of play, often including song and dance. The song “Ring around the Rosie” is a good example, given its origins from the days of the Black Plague. Children in Europe sang it as a way to process the chaos all around them.
These children are singing two songs which are part of their unique indigenous culture. They did not learn it from a CD. They did not download it to their IPOD. They did not first hear it at a major concert venue. I cannot be sure how they learned these songs, given my own unfortunate ignorance of their specific culture, but it is apparent to me that they all knew the lyrics well so that, in their singing, they could freely express their joy. I would venture to guess that the songs are very much a part of their everyday play, the daily rhythms of their lives, along with a wide array of additional ethnographic factors.
It raises some questions for us in the Western Hemisphere:
What are the kinds of things which influence our children daily to such an extent that those things become an integral aspect to the rhythms of their lives within their families and throughout all their typical routines, both seasonal and year-around?
What is the legacy of their childhood?
What or who is influencing, however subtlely, their spiritual lives?
How is their spirituality lived out within the normal routines of life in terms of their play in the context of family, friendship and community?
To what extent are their lives, and of course ours as a corollary, fragmented into distinct sets of linear relationships which are unrelated to each other due to issues of distance, individualism, compartmentalization and over-scheduling? This question is informed by the writing of Randy Frazee in his book Making Room for Life (Zondervan, 2003).
More to come soon, along with a review of the above-mentioned book.