When one of our people tells you to "watch what you say," it's a spiritual reminder to consider the power of our words. And since we have a long history of believing in the sacredness of what we say, it’s also a vital part of our history.
Our people believe the spoken word embodies spiritual potency. In African traditional medicine and diasporic traditions like Hoodoo, sacred remarks in the form of prayers accompanied herbalists' and conjurers' medicine mixing.
Scholar John S. Mibiti writes, "The words of the medicine-man work through the medicine he gives, and it is this, perhaps more than the actual herb, which is thought to cause the cure or prevent misfortunes."
Our elders, who seem to speak in riddles, passing on family secrets and spiritual guidance in the same breath, are leaning toward ancestral griot ways. Skillful singers, poets, and musicians, griots carried the culture on their tongues, preserving our most powerful stories.
In some Black cultures, brevity is considered a sign of poor speech because speaking purposefully is regarded as an act of care, and that isn’t always done quickly. Well considered impactful words come from the spirit.
Our people have always believed in the power of words. We must all speak with intention and be mindful of the things we say to ourselves and each other.
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