|Elders singing in the Dabuyaba/temple|
Ever woke up in the morning with something on the mind that just wouldn't go away? So it happens with writers - poets, storytellers, composers. The inspiration often comes unanticipated and for some when that content is in the fore of their consciousness, it is so compelling that they must do nothing else but put it down on paper. It has been this way for many generations and so much of what we now have is owed to the oral traditions that have been retained across African and other cultures. Such is the case with many traditional songs of the Garifuna people. They come to their composers oftentimes in dreams of some Ancestor or the other.
If we accept that no original thought exists but that new thoughts are only old ones renewed, then we can appreciate that the inspiration writers speak of is actually from a source that is not their consciousness but something much deeper. Sometimes a writer might be able to say that the words were spoken to them by a particular person they saw in their sleep. Sometimes all they have is a voice or a vision of the words. Whichever way the inspiration comes, it is still not of the writer but of another source for which the writer becomes a transporter.
|Younger Garifuna gayusa (traditional singer)|
When speaking of the origin of certain songs they have composed or have sung, Garifuna elders often speak of being "given" a song. When they sing the songs they were inspired to sing, they would say, "I am singing it the way it was given to me." Such a statement acknowledges the source of inspiration and accepts such inspiration as a gift. The normal practice thereafter is for that gift to be shared with others. The given songs are sung at gatherings and are taught to others. In this way, such a precious gift is not selfishly hoarded but instead is gladly given to others for longevity. In the sharing, the gift, the song is given eternal life.