td – Volume 3 – MYSTERY Realms – APRIL, 2015
THE POWER OF THE SPOKEN WORD
With three previous articles on the applications of sound vibration, I intend to prepare the mind of readers enough to appreciate the power of the spoken words as a vital aspect of this theme.
Science calls the study of the applications of sound vibrations Applied acoustics. Actors and news broadcasters undergo elaborate training in diction, elocution and audition. They learn voice training in reading aloud, pronouncing words correctly in certain ways to produce the desired effects.
Some of you old enough can still recapture the magic effect of the voices of renowned newscaster like Abba Zorro and Sam Nwaneri as they read the National News over Radio Nigeria in the late 50s, the solemn voice of Obi Ebo would float into the air heralded by the signature tune of the music of Duke Ellington in the late Night Jazz Hour. Eager listeners glued their ears on the talking boxes and in their minds’ eyes followed the roaring voice of the hilarious Ishola Folorunsho as he scored countless goals with his mouth. You know what I mean.
Socrates perfected the technique of question and answer as an effective method of inductive reasoning. Cicero was a shy stammerer as a young man. He overcame his weakness by addressing the roaring waves at the beach. He became a most renowned orator Rome had ever produced. Hitler led the Germans into the Second World War through sheer oratory propaganda and intrigue.
Sir Winston Churchill countered the great War Speeches:
“Britain’s neck shall be wrung like a chicken’s neck” with
“We shall fight them on land, on the beaches, on the sea and in the air”.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Our forefathers knew the power of the spoken word very well. Chiefs in the village saw the need of employing town criers late at night to announce important meetings at this village square or on the palace ground. To mobilize mass support on vital decisions, seasoned speakers were selected to sway men with words.
A name given to a child meant so much that it deserved consulting an oracle to ascertain the appropriate name. They were wise enough to acknowledge that there is more in a name, even a name given to a place. They were only thinking aloud in terms of choosing appropriate sound vibrations to produce the right effect. Truth will always remain truth only wise people say them in different ways from age to age.
At the age of ten. I sat with my late father on a high place listening to the undulating voice of a sorcerer invited to divine a situation and offer advice. His words moved me beyond the veil, I knew he could not communicate with his guiding entity and told my father so. The diviner was annoyed at the challenge and asked me what the oracle said. I told him that the oracle was informing him that his wife, Nbeuwa, was dead. Stunned, he packed his beads and gadgets and went home. Three days later, he sent word to my father that his wife actually died that same morning. We later grew to respect ourselves and exchange opinions. This later reminded me how Emperor Nero fiddled while Rome was burning. In the heart of it, he was informed that his closest adviser and confident was dead. Nero wept like a baby in tears, he asked.
“So he died without my permission?”
So my father’s baffled diviner thought the angels of death would consult him before taking away his beloved wife?
The Christian Bible emphasized the power of the spoken word.
And God said: “Let there be light” and Light was made. In the account of the birth of John the Baptist, his father Zacharias, though dumb, was approached to give him a name. Being a priest and vast in the Jewish Kaballa, he asked for a paper and a pen. With trembling hands, he scribbled certain sacred, alphabets, gleaned through them and muttered the name John. At that moment, his tight tongue loosened. Such was the power of the spoken word.
Let us follow Joshua as he led the army of Israel to the Walls of Jericho. They found the fortification of the city impregnable. (As a man vast in sacred knowledge, he knew that special situations needed special attention. He divided his men into seven groups and ordered them to match stealthily round the city seven times. They spaced themselves evenly round the city and chanted a word in unison. Paul of Tars-us’ recaptured this moving epoch in Jewish history very eloquently,
“By words alone, the Walls of Jericho fell down”
Let us look at another power of the spoken word in the use of incantations. These are alphabets, and vowels arranged in a definite way and pronounced in certain ways to produce desired effects. If an oracle is great in Yoruba culture not only because it is the repository of certain hidden knowledge but also because it has vast knowledge of the articulate use of sound vibrations in special incantations to produce special effects.
With mere words, an Ifa priest can rouse the inert power of stones and metals, awaken the latent potency of herbs, control elemental forces-cloud, mist, rain, thunder, lightning and wild beasts. They could stir the gods of war at will when the need arises in self-defence. These were some of the sacred knowledge we have virtually lost. Some of us are so naively acculturated that we fear at our folly and can’t even see beyond our noses.
Last week was full of happy events for me. Four ladies brought their newly born babes for me to name. Together we nursed them with herbs from conception to delivery, their first deliveries after many years of marriage. As I called their names, each of the babies smiled in response. I was thrilled. Then a courier letter ordered me to proceed to Port Harcourt to see another baby delivered after 20 years break. Another lady came, a very high executive, married 22 years ago. She wanted to be sure of what was happening to her. I placed my first thumb at a pressure point above her navel, uttered an age old word and said: “20 weeks”. With tears of joy, she said, it was exactly what her doctor said. It touched my heart too.
There is a very powerful spoken word which people rarely think about. I mean the first cry of a new born baby. In the first cry, a baby imitates the Nameless Word and calls itself into being. This often follows the first breadth with which the body is en-souled and disengaged from the mother. With the first breath, soul, through the breadth of life, animates the lump of clay it assumed as a vehicle.
By Ben Anyaejii
(First published on page 9 of the Sunday Times, Nigeria; March 22nd. 1983)