Bambu Station: Humanity Bawlin’

“Humanity Bawlin’” hits Jalani Horton on several levels. He vividly recalls performing the song in Tel Aviv in 2005, at a Passover festival for African Hebrew Israelites. Not the Israel most imagine watching the news today, though that too plays into the meaning of the song. This is an ancient Israel, one that connects Africans and their descendents to this day.

Horton instructs Bambu Station to quiet the music. He asks the crowd about this “Palestinian thing,” the same “thing” African-Americans have endured for centuries. Someone shouts back, “you know how it is.” Horton nods his head affirmatively. Indeed, he does. 

Horton recalls one of his earliest influences, the great David Hinds. Horton in high school, jamming to Steel Pulse in his headphones, wondering who’s going to save the human race. It’s us, he realizes. Only us. If we choose to. The lyrics of “Humanity Bawlin’” represent this desire.

Because the song isn’t only about Africans in America or Palistinians in Israel. It’s about Partition as well. Over a million Indians died during the creation of Pakistan, a nation created as a response to the end of colonialism. The song is about any nation with a caste system, which is every nation, and those in power keeping the people separated. 

The song is a cry of unity in the face of division.

More pragmatically: Tuff Lion drove up to the Maryland studio, a new Korg Triton keyboard in his car. Horton turns it on, scrolling through the sound selections. He finds a sweet chord, which turns out to be a minor chord. The sound leaps from the speaker. Horton screams “Jah!” The first vocal on One Day is the revelation of a sound. 

“I hit it hard and sustained it, and sang out ‘Jah!’ because it made me feel like crying out to the heavens,” Horton recalls. “It felt perfect for an intro to a song. I demonstrated the sound to Tuff Lion. He liked it, too. Once I figured out a chord progression, Tuff Lion started ad libbing vocally, no discernible words, just sounds to match the vibes I was playing.”

Horton wrote words to Tuff Lion’s scat. Words powerful and sad. He’d been paying attention to Palestine and Israel since his brother became a member of the African Hebrew Israelite community in Dimona, a city in the Negev Desert. He knew that Africans were also oppressed in that land, even as the members fought to maintain their own biblical connection. 

Horton has no answers to these problems. But questions are powerful. He wanted to know “which man will be the first to love and get rid of hate?” An eternal conundrum. Our perpetual human circumstance. All Horton could do was be aware, then raise awareness. 

“We went to the Wailing Wall,” Horton recalls, two decades after the concert in Israel. “To get in there, we had to go through X-ray machines, past machine guns, just to go into this place of prayer. The women are separated to the right, the men to the left. Everyone has their own traditions, but the miniscule divisions that we create collectively adds up to this big divide.”

Horton is a student of history. He also teaches history to children. In his studies and teachings, he always returns to the basics: How can we live together? How can we not repeat the same cycle, the vicious circle of history? 

The “so-called leaders,” he says, “haven’t changed their course.” That puts the weight of history on our shoulders. It means we have to correct it, to break the cycle.

Sadly,Horton believes things have gotten worse since he first wrote “Humanity Bawlin’”. In Israel. In the Virgin Islands. In America. Division reigns. He wants to hold those leaders accountable “before they do massive damage.” Is it possible? Perhaps. No one knows.

What we have: a minor chord and a cry to the heavens. Not all weapons are destroyed. Not all humans brawl. The more who realize this, the closer we come to ending the cycle.

The 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition Digital and Double LP Vinyl of Bambu Station’s “One Day” will be released on Old Growth Records on May 3, 2024.

Humanity Bawlin’ Lyrics

Jah! Daddy! Save we!

It’s alright Asiel,

We going teach dem, Save we!

We going show dem

Say a prayer for Yerusalem

Amesegnalehu, Selah

Humanity bawlin,

Bawling shedding tears

Palestinians are dying

Growing up with hatred and fear

Say a prayer for Yerusalem

First the land of the foe

Now it a land of their friend

But every time, I look around

There’s hatred and bombing

In this dominion

Say a prayer for Israel

Some say its the Arabs turn

To be the victims

But what about, the human state

Which man will be the first to love

And get rid of hate

Say ah prayer for the Indian dem

Cause a Hindu Indian

Fighting Indian Muslim

And along with Pakistan

Dem playing nuclear games

What wrong with these man

Playing these ungodly games

More than 70% of the world’s AIDs population, on one continent

More than 70% of the world’s AIDs population, are Africans

They’re eliminating several generations of our race, our people

From off the land

Impacting the future leadership of the richest continent here on Earth

The Motherland, you hear me?

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