Creation Song: A Revelation

by Budd Hall

Our cries of fear and pain

Our cries of joy of happiness

Were our first poems

Before words

Before sentences

Before grammar

Before language

We imitated birds and other animals

And found that with our sounds we could share

Our experience and tell a story

With each other


Our first sounds/poems

Creating community through

A common sense of who we were


We put our sounds together

We repeated them to each other

We created memory through sounds


We changed the pitch in our voices

We changed the rhythm in our delivery

And we had song

And we had story

And each of us was a poet

A story teller


Our poems were of the earth and the water

Of the rocks, the trees, the other animals, the grasses

And at night with full moon’s light, we shared our stories

The Old, talking to the young


And when we died

The poems remained

The stories remained

Our words

Our language

They reminded us of who we were

Where we were going

Where we had been


Our poems and songs became our culture

We gave birth to these poems and songs

And in return, the songs and poems gave

Life to us in families, communities, and kingdoms


With our stories we existed

Without our stories

Without our words

We were not alive


The world was therefore sounded, cried and spoken

Into being

Our lives were sung into existence

And over the thousands of years

As we drifted and filled the earth with people

Our languages gave us our identity

Who we were, and importantly

Who we were not


We were the people of the large mountain

We were the people of the standing stone

We were the people of the large salmon river

We were the people of the broad savannah

We were the people of the Nile Valley

We shared stories of 20,000 years and more


And although through time our words and languages

Have come to be distinct

The first purpose of language has always been to foster community

Not to drive us apart

And never to use language to say that some ideas and some people

Are more important than others

And not to say that one language alone can be a global language

While other languages are good only for small ideas

Ideas of the village


Who am I then?

Who am I to come to Busoga

To come to Uganda

To come to Africa

And share words in the same language

Of those people who

Bring death into our world?


Who am I, someone so far removed from his

Own tribal origins to have forgotten whatever language

His ancestors once spoke?

Who am I, to have been the great grand child of English settlers

Who took the land of the Halalt First Nations people

On Vancouver Island

So that their English-speaking children might

Have more food and better houses and better medical care than

The Halalt-language speaking children whose land they took?


What is the meaning of my coming to this land, this Africa where

All human life began?

I am made humble by the presence of so many gods and Ancestors

Among us here today

I am lost at this moment and have no real answers for myself

Let alone for any others hearing me today or reading these words


I know only one thing

That our words, our languages, our differences, our dreams and our

Ferocious anger at injustice and poverty and cruelty

Must be shared


And I know one more thing

That the feeling of the soil on the soles of our feet

Or of our hand dipping into our rivers or our seas

Or of the sounds of birds at sunrise

Or of the cries of newly born children and other animals

Or of the sounds of drums and xylophones

Or of the singing together in celebration that hope still exists

Or of the memories kept alive in our Mother Tongue


Are carried in our words

With our poetry

With our songs

Words and songs born of African soil

And carried in our hearts to every corner of this planet

Still carrying life

Still rejecting despair

Still making resistance possible

Still conveying tenderness

Still linking friend to friend

Still expressing our love


Budd L. Hall dedicated this Revelation to Nabyama Paulo Wangoola for opening him so many possibilities to learn.

This was shared for the first time at the Mpambo Multiversity campus in Isegero, Iganga, Busoga, Uganda after Jajjaj Kiwanuka Ntambi-za-Mukama, a Professor of Afrikan spirituality, said that he had been told by the spirits that someone in the room had a revelation to share.


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