There’s a tribe in Africa that counts a child’s birthday from the day it first appears as a thought in its mother’s mind. On that day, [the] woman sits under a tree and quietly listens and waits until she can hear the song of her child. When she has heard the song, she returns to her village and teaches it to . . . the child’s father, so that they can sing the song when they are together and make love, inviting the child to join them.
The expectant mother then sings the song to the child in her womb and teaches it to the midwives, who sing it when the child is born. All the villagers learn the child’s song as well, so that whenever the child cries or hurts itself, they can pick it up, hold it in their arms and sing the song. The song is also sung when the young person goes through a rite of passage, when he or she marries, and one last time, when he or she is about to die.