Free! Or as they sing in Burundi, Sina Mali Sina Deni!

I love synchronicities.  Last week I blogged about getting to sing with Stevie Wonder at a recent memorial service and on Facebook this morning one of my friends posted a Stevie Wonder video called “Free.”  The title of the song intrigued me because I’ve been a fan of Wonder’s since I was 12 and yet I didn’t remember him putting out anything by that name.  So I clicked on the video and instantly recognized the song even though I’d never heard him sing it before.   Check out the video, it’s fantastic! (In addition to some iconic images of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, at the 2:01 mark you can briefly see some kids chasing after a soccer ball in an alley…)

The version I’d heard well over a decade ago and instantly fallen in love with had been part of a Putamayo Records compilation called Women of Africa.  It was titled Sina Mali, Sina Deni and was sung by a woman from Burundi named Khadja Nin.  Because the lyrics weren’t in English, I had no idea what Nin was singing about but I knew it was powerful because every time I listened to the song I got goosebumps.

Here’s Khadja Nin’s version:

Turns out Stevie wrote the song and released the video back in 1989.  (Ironic I never heard or saw it back then since I was a very active member of the Free South Africa Movement during that time…)   If the song was powerful for me before I knew what the words were in English or that Stevie had made the video as a tribute to those South Africans and other oppressed peoples in the world who were struggling  for their freedom, it’s doubly so now.  Free speaks not only to political liberation, but spiritual liberation, as well.  Check out these lyrics!


Free like the river
Flowin’ freely through infinity
Free to be sure of
What I am and who I need not be
Free from all worries
Worries prey on oneself’s troubled mind
Freer than the clock’s hands
Tickin’ way the times
Freer than the meaning of free that man defines
Life running through me
Till I feel my father God has called

Me having nothin’
But possessing riches more than all
And I’m free
To be nowhere
But in every place I need to be
Freer than a sunbeam
Shining through my soul
Free from feelin’ heat or knowing bitter cold
Free from conceiving the beginning
For that’s the infinite start

I’m gone – gone but still living
Life goes on without a beating heart

Free like a vision
That the mind of only you can see

Freer than a raindrop
Falling from the sky
Freer than a smile in a baby’s sleepin’ eyes

I’m free like a river
Flowin’ freely to infinity
I’m free to be sure of what
I am and who I need not be
I’m much freer – like the meaning of the word free that
crazy man defines
Free – free like the vision that
The mind of only you are ever gonna see
Free like the river my life
Goes on and on through infinity

May we always have great music to accompany us as we Travel With Balls!

Peace & Blessings,