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THE WORD IN AFRICAN ONTOLOGY Socrates Ebo, PhD ABSTRACT The word in African ontology is more than mere expression of sounds. It is a being which is intra-mental and extra-mental. It is a creation of human mind and the human lips. But it is also an independent entity with enormous causal powers in the African universe of forces. It is an art as well as a means of communication. It is the embodiment of the history of the African community. Embedded in the word, is the community’s ethics. Yet, the word is also a series of sounds which can be learnt and repeated. It can be uttered by anyone yet not everyone can put it to every use. The word can be profound in a context and meaningless in another context. The same word that is commonplace in common speech can be a causal force in a coded ritual. Yet, it is the word: ubiquitous and cryptic, mystic and plebeian; sacred and profane, artistic, yet plain bland on the lips of many.
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