“The spoken word, through the vibrations that it sets in motion, activates and propels all things … ” ― Malian Writer and Ethnologist, Amadou Hampâté Bâ

Whether the vibrations are in Yoruba, Igbo, Fula, Akan, Wolof … West Africa reverberates with the sounds of Niger-Congo languages, one of the largest language families in the world.

The Power of Words

Painting of faces, some listening, some speaking.

The ‘word’ in West African cultures, once loosened from the lips as if drawing back the strings of a talisman pouch, diffuses a special force, the primal energy of creation itself. To speak is to exhale an active essence, Oro according to the Yoruba of Nigeria and Benin. For the Mande — ranging from coastal …