What is culture but the fabric of a community – the quintessance of being, belonging to the world?
As part of a child’s education, learning one language is as important as being exposed to other cultures. Not only does the child gradually develops communications skills but he, she also learns to appreciate that cultural kaleidoscope of voices whilst appreciating his, her own.
In my [geographically remote] part of the world, education integrates “global classroom” in an effort to enable young people to view the world beyond the physical boundaries of our isles. Last June, South Africa came to Shetland. What a fabulous opportunity for Shetlanders of all ages to be exposed and to mix with the Zulu culture through a common passion, that of music and dancing.
As part of one’s cultural baggage, learning about others tears prejudice, stereotypes, fears apart. Too few priviledged ones have such possibility still.
Youssou N’Dour is playing on my iTunes – talking drums, djembe drums, drums, rhythms of Africa’s West Coast, including his native Senegal, mixed with western instruments. His voice unites more than one community. My favourite opus of his is entitled Joko – the village. It begins with a very haunting tune, Wiri-Wiri, in which children’s voices (in the background) transport you straight away inside “the village”. Powerful.
I love Youssou’s musical world. He encompasses that blend: singing in Wollof, English and French… And if he could perform in other languages, I believe he would not hesitate to do so. He’s a world believer. Yama is another haunting song. You listen to the world – boys on a boat, rowing somewhere on the Atlantic…
Like wandering off a known shore and discovering others.
Through his artistic gift, Youssou educates, reaches out to both folk from his community as well as the rest of the world.
Many other world artists scattered around the world have touched my heart. Furthermore and not too long ago, two artists decided to travel the world with basic recording equipment. They wanted to “record the world’s many voices”. The project was called One Giant Leap. Through a mixture of interviews revolving around universal themes (life, death, among many others) and songs performed by locals on the spot and selected western artists, the project brings the world closer together in a very humane way. World wisdom & culture celebrated without prejudice. What a breath of fresh air in a “boxed” world!
Encouraging such projects would liberate man’s mind from many concepts, such as nationalism, which, as already experienced through history, engulfs entire communities into short or long-term conflicts. If I was taught in (western) philosophy that man was a natural born killer, I do not believe that man is born to suffer. Accepting each other’s culture in this new millenium would indeed be deemed as a giant leap into celebrating one world. To this effect, the term biodiversity should not be restricted to the environment, hence to plants, animals whilst excluding mankind. After all, we very much belong to this ecological world.
This music from the world remains universal.
Hear that pulsar.
I don’t mind us quiet at night.
We have our realms, hidden flowers to tend and touch.
We need that land, edge of our ridge where we define bits of our sky;
that’s when our moon lines up with sun.
Let me watch us with eyes wide shut.
I don’t mind us in rotation,
our shadows resting in silence, leaning against hands of our clocks,
like silhouettes that never fear to cross their paths –
we, fireflies in outer space.
As we let light ignite present,
we hear comets whisper warm words,
unsung riddles sprinkled with dust,
like lullabies on silver shores;
that’s when water reaches my mind.
My Buddha ego on boulder,
I let the world sing its own song & dream awake here on sandstone –
capsules of now caught in cold rain, there, cracked open
on northern skin, as dynamic as dreams at dawn,
like kelpies off equinox tides.
I just mind us, serene, anchored, happy to catch stars with bare hands.
Northern Garden, 7 April 2008