Home African communication systems 11 EXTRA-MUNDANE BOTTOM-UP COMMUNICATION: DEFINITION AND SOME CHANNELS (DIVINATION AND ANCESTRAL WORSHIP)

EXTRA-MUNDANE BOTTOM-UP COMMUNICATION: DEFINITION AND SOME CHANNELS (DIVINATION AND ANCESTRAL WORSHIP)

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1.0 INTRODUCTION

This unit focuses on extra-mundane communication, types and the main features.
2.0 OBJECTIVES
At the end of this unit of study, should be able to:

  1. Define extra-mundane communication
  2. List and discuss the types of extra-mundane communication drawing examples from what obtains in their cultures
  3. Know the features of some extra-mundane mode of communication

3.0 MAIN CONTENT

3.1 What is Extra-Mundane Communication?

Normally, communication is classified into intra-personal; inter-personal, and mass communication (Okunna, 1999). However, in African communication systems, Wilson (1998:47) submits that there is “extra-mundane” communication and as Akpabio (2003:31) puts it “Supernatural Communication” which involves supernatural beings – ancestors, spirits, gods, the supreme God – or when they involve processes, elements or abilities that are superhuman as in witchcraft, reincarnation, etc. Again, Ibagere (1994:93), refers to it as the esoteric mode. He argues,

The word esoteric has been so chosen to describe this mode because of the peculiar nature of the mode in that its understanding depends, to a large extent, on the psychic development of the individual.

The esoteric mode involves all other modes, the only difference being that under the esoteric mode, they are operated in the metaphysical plane. This accounts for why: one has to be initiated through some form of education, into the ontological framework of the mode to be able to understand its application. Thus, there could be verbal and non-verbal communication in this mode, but only in the metaphysical sense. The whole essence of this mode bothers on the interpretation of events [information] that have been experienced on the metaphysical plane as relevant and relating to real life experiences (Ibagere, 1994:93)
These might account for why Modum (1980) submitted that while the modern man’s god is science and his religion, economic, the traditional Nigerian sphere of influence of existence is associated with the sacred realm of the gods – more precisely the essence of and continuation and social life are guaranteed through well determined and periodical contacts with the deities during which the society not only renews its faith in gods but also reiterates the factors of life and death.

This is a form of communication between the supernatural and living beings as a belief system in individual cultural setting. It takes the form of charms, songs (dirges), incantations, ritual prayers, sacrifice, libations (as seen in Schnapp advert), invocation, trance and histeriques. It may also take the form of cultural and individuals performance and invokes intensity of emotion; may lead to temporary spiritual rituals. It is a multi-dimensional communication in Africa. This type of communication in Africa is manifest as cultural celebrations such as festivals; consecration of marriages; christening; and house warming. Extra-mundane in modern times take the form of obituaries, euphemistically packaged as transitions as well as memorial tunes – Rest in Peace (RIP).

According to Wilson (1998), it involves intra-personal processes such as incantation, physical revelation, magical, other-worldly verbalisation, spiritual transmigration and may carry elements of ordinary cultural celebration, dedication and consecration. These characteristics and elements can be neatly grouped into bottom-up and top-down communication within the extra-mundane mode.

3.2 Types of Extra-Mundane Communication and Examples

According to Akpabio (2003), extra-mundane communication can be grouped into two:

a)Bottom-Up Communication – examples

  1. Festival 
  2. Ceremonies

This author would like to add divination and ancestral worship to the bottom-up examples. So, the examples of bottom-up communication under this mode include:

  1. Festival
  2. Ceremonies
  3. Divination
  4. Ancestral Worship

b) Top-down Communication – examples

  1. Potent speech

This author would like to add dreams and telepathy to the top-down examples. So, the examples of top-down communication under this mode include:

  1. Potent speech
  2. Dreams
  3. Telepathy

Ibagere (1994) has another group under the extra-mundane, which he refers to as others

C) Others – examples

  1. Blowing the wind
  2. Heart beat
  3. Decomposing matter
  4. Flowing rivers and streams
  5. Appearance of a strange or rear breeds of animals and birds

This author refers to Ibagere (1994) others; as natural phenomena and also add itching of the palm and cock – crow (especially at odd hours) to the others examples. So, the examples of others communication under this mode include the following and others discussed under natural phenomena:

  1. Blowing the wind 
  2. Heart beat 
  3. Decomposing matter 
  4. Flowing rivers and streams 
  5. Appearance of a strange or rear breeds of animals and birds 
  6. Itching on the palm 
  7. Cock Crow (normally and at odd hours) 

3.3 Features of Extra-Mundane Communication

While it is easy to learn to send and understand messages sent through the other modes, the extra-mundane is not as easy. In some instance, for someone who wants to be involved in the use of the mode, it might require certain rituals of initiation. For instance, if one is not conversant with divination, the person cannot perform the act without performing certain initiation rituals aimed at initiating the person and developing the person’s senses to understand the message sent through the channel, as the essence of the extra-mundane mode is the ability to understand the message. According to Ibagere (1994:95):It is, perhaps pertinent to state that the esoteric mode is the most spurned of all the modes as a result of social pressures resulting from modernization which tends to view traditional African life as primitive, needing change and irrelevant in the present scheme of world’s affairs. This results from people’s lack of understanding of the mode, since it is too complex for the naïve and ordinary mind. Thus people tend not to believe in it. Nevertheless, it is as important as any other mode, so long as it has its own social function.

4.0 CONCLUSION

The unit concludes that the extra-mundane communication involves intra-personal processes such as incantation, physical revelation, magical, other-worldly verbalisation, spiritual transmigration and may carry elements of ordinary cultural celebration, dedication and consecration. It also grouped agreed wth Akpabio (2003) and grouped extra-mundane communication into bottom-up and top-down communication. However, it expanded the examples under each group.

5.0 SUMMARY

This unit focused on the concept of extra-mundane communication, types and the main features, and uses in African communication. Familiarity with those common in your community will enhance your understanding of the workings. Extra-mundane communication is an important classification of traditional communication in most African societies and it is important that we should be very observant as scholars of communication of the various forms in our communities.

Self Assessment Exercise

  1. List the types of extra-mundane communication in your community.

6.0 TUTOR – MARKED ASSIGNMENT

  1. What is extra-mundane communication?
  2. What are the features of extra-mundane communication?

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