In much of Africa, words do far more than carry a message or meaning. Words are believed to have power when spoken. For example, the Dogon people of Mali believe the African concept of Nommo, which states that the power of the spoken word carries a life force that produces all life and influences everything. By human utterance or through the spoken word, human beings can invoke a kind of spiritual power. Even the ancient Egyptians believed that power emanated from words. This belief is linked to their ethical principle, Maat (meaning truth, harmony, balance, and reciprocity).

The power of words is different from one individual to the next. The word power of the Creator is more powerful than that of any other being. In African ...

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