Patience for the World

Sabali, sabali, sabali yonkontê.
Sabali, sabali, sabali kayi/kagni. (both mean “good”)
Ni kêra môgô…

Patience, patience, patience is worth everything.
Patience, patience, patience is good.
If you love someone…

The chorus is sung in Bambara which is the main language in Mali, Africa. The chorus is from another song, which is in Bambara and French, “Sabali” by Amadou and Mariam (Music video and lyrics). In “Patience” by Nas and Damian Marley, (Music video and lyrics) the chorus is sung by the original singer, Mariam. Both Amadou and Mariam are featured in the music video of “Patience.” The opening of the music video is dark, but I believe it is Mariam on the left and Amadou on the right both gesturing to the open door. Mariam and Amadou are beckoning us into the song and its world like wise statues enlightening us to the way the universe works. Mariam is featured every time she is singing the chorus and through her positioning over Nas and Damian and the light that surrounds she offers spiritual guidance. Amadou is featured again at 1:30 on either side of Mariam as the frontmost figurehead.

Verse 1
Instead of solving the problems we have here on Earth, such as world hunger, we are more concerned with developing technology to colonize other large rocks in space. We feed millions of pounds of corn and grain to cows and chickens to fatten them up so an average American can eat 270.7 lbs of meat per year (in 2007) that’s almost a pound per day. 
Instead, we could feed starving children with these crops, but that isn’t profitable. Just as we make money from gawking at animals in cages, churches receive donations from showcasing emancipated children. We think putting on a costume makes us a hero who can steal and destroy other histories and cultures, even desecrate the dead. The media shows bad news because they are the most sensational stories and since we see it all the time, we are desensitized to it. The Beast is capitalism and consumerism. Americans are only at home in their own country and there will be no where for them to go when the system collapses.

Verse 2
Socrates believed we were born with innate knowledge and learning was a process of remembering the knowledge rather than acquiring a new skill or new information. Damian is showing how blurry the line is between what is considered supernatural and what is true. Our superstitions are a way for us to explain the world in order to cope living in it, but they can also harm us by restricting our viewpoints. We often talk about things we do not know anything about and we either believe it’s true or we rely on the ignorance of our audience so that we are not questioned to back up what we are saying. I’ve written about this topic of ignorance in my own life in “A Student’s Perspective on Knowledge.” We have a stereotype that if you are in the education system, that you must be smart, but this is not true. There are both smart and dumb people in schools, which goes for every institution. Being in a school does not necessitate that you are smart, regardless of the prestigious brand you display on your chest and the test score you have. But it is ironic that in a place where learning should be taking place, there are people that are not learning.

Verse 3
Nas brings attention to religious scripture being written by people. As we have created language in which scripture is written, we have put ourselves under the trance of superstition. Nas points out the ridiculousness of superstitions by showing how a voodoo doll does not work. Even though we have universities and mass production to meet our sustenance needs of water, food, and shelter and to call ourselves civilized, we are not better than superstitious people because language in institutes, like religion and education, is the new spell that has control over us. Literally, we are soldiers going to war for the profit of monopolies on guns, bombs, and oil. We are also soldiers metaphorically in thought control by repeating what the media and government, played by corporations, tell us. Can we survive without capitalism and war when we have forgotten how to grow our own food and to have patience?

At 3:07 there are people riding seahorses on the pillars lined up on either side of Nas. I could not find what seahorses meant in Ancient Egypt, but in Ancient Europe they thought “the seahorse carried the souls of deceased sailors to the underworld,” which has an interesting connotation the the seahorse riders are should being carried away, perhaps our own souls. Seahorses are symbolic of “patience and contentment” (Seahorse symbolism).

May you have patience.

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