Home African communication systems 11 TOP-DOWN COMMUNICATION: SOME EXAMPLES OF EXTRA-MUNDANE AND NATURAL PHENOMENA

TOP-DOWN COMMUNICATION: SOME EXAMPLES OF EXTRA-MUNDANE AND NATURAL PHENOMENA

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1.0. INTRODUCTION

This unit focuses on potent speech, dream and telepathy as top-down extra-mudane forms of communication. Again, I have been writing on what I consider to be the traditional channels of communication in Africa, drawing extensively from Emu clan among the Ukwuani speaking people of Ndokwa West Local Government Area of Delta State-Nigeria. In my opinion, communication is linking one to another in words and deed with the aim of sharing meaning. If it is linking people together through exchanges of opinions, ideas and information, all possible channels of linking others should be considered. For such reasons, it would be unfair to fail to recognise natural phenomena and direct observation in the fulfilment of traditional communication in Africa, which means the ways and means of informing and alerting people of what is on, to come, to do and how to do it.

2.0 OBJECTIVES

At the end of this unit of study, should be able to:

  1. Explain extra-mundane top-down communication
  2. Discuss some examples of extra-mundane top-down communication, highlighting their significance
  3. Explain natural phenomena as channels of communication
  4. List and discuss some examples of natural penomena and their communication functions 

3.0 MAIN CONTENT

3.1 What is Extra-Mundane Top-down Communication?

In top-down extra-mundane communication, a supernatural being through its priests/agents or signs communicates his/her “pleasure/displeasure, directives, orders, etc, to its adherents and priests. It entails the show of supernatural abilities and capabilities.

3.2.0 Some Examples of Extra-Mundane Top-down Communication

3.2.1 Potent SpeechPotent speech is a good example of top-down form of extra-mundane communication. According to Oduyoye (1998:203), in Igbo land for instance, every family head and Ozo title holder possess the Ofo and it makes everything that they say while striking the Ofo to the ground to come to pass. Buttressing her position, she stated that it is:

The most important symbol of ancestors…This stick is made from the branch of a tree bearing the same name and which becomes effective after consecration. It is then regarded as the abode of a spirit, especially of ancestral spirits. It is used as a symbol of all departed spirits.

3.2.2 Dreams

Since the biblical times, dreams have been a very important mode of top-down communication, with Joseph regarded as “the dreamer”. Similarly in African communication, dreams are regarded highly as a means of top-down communication and the phenomenon is used to communicate certain messages between people who could be far apart; or as means through which supernatural beings, the most High God, or even the departed members of the family communicate with the living beings. According to Ibagere (1994:93): Dreams are regarded as experiences on a higher plane. It is the initiated or one with a particularly high level of psychic development who can apply appropriate meaning to his dream. It demands even a higher level of psychic development to interpret another person’s dream.

3.2.3 Telepathy

In Africa, people can and do communicate, or receive ideas and messages through the use of their inner and outer spiritual, human and material powers or forces depending on the relationship and understanding of the individuals involved in the communication process. For, instance the sudden appearance of a person or loved one being talked about and those talking about the person who suddenly appeared will simply say “you the true son of your father”. Ibagere (1994:94) asserted,

This is the mode in which communication is between two or more minds and effected through means other than the known channels of the senses. This also depends on the level of psychic development of the individual concerned.Telepathy shows that a person is spiritually alert and can easily be where he is supposed to be at any point in time.

3.3.0 Natural phenomena

In Africa, natural phenomena such as the blowing wind, heart beat, decomposing matter, flowing rivers and streams, appearance of a strange or rear breed of animals and birds, itching on the palm and cock crow especially at odd hours amongst others could be interpreted as communicating something of importance (Ibagere, 1994). So, the other forms of extra-mundane communication, involves “attributing meanings to (or interpreting) some seemingly natural phenomena.” (Ibagere (1994:94).

These show that in indigenous communication, the source is not only human beings, natural phenomenon can communicate. Natural phenomena are channels by which our creator contact and contract activities and intentions to the children of men. God the creator, uses them to inform, alert, direct and protect us on coming events to enable us to be prepared and know what to do in our own interest. They are fair, free and easily identified by people without class prejudice. Rather, they are kinder to the physically challenged who by them are informed, warned and directed on what to do at a particular time in their respective interests and time (Ogwezzy, 1999). Messages are transmitted through direct observation.

Natural phenomena have the widest coverage, clear, alerting and positive. The phenomena, this text considers are wind, cloud, lightening and thunder.

3.3.1 Some Examples of Natural phenomena and their Communication Functions

According to Doob (1966), communication does not have to be intentional to take place. Natural phenomena mentioned in this text are few. However, they are sufficiently indicative to highlight the workings.

3.3.1a Wind: 

When winds blow, everybody including the physically challenged knows that danger is afoot. Some of the physically challenged rummage for their things and creep away to safety. Winds also tell of possible down pour of rain.

3.3.1b Cloud:

 When clouds gather, it shows that rain is about to fall. Everybody, including the physically challenged except the blind, removes things outside and finds his/her way into shelter to avoid being drenched in the anticipated rain. A dark cloud alerts us of a coming thunderstorm just as clearly as verbal warning from another person could.

3.3.1c Lightning:

 When there is lightning, everybody except the blind, knows and is alerted of possible rain and take safety precautions.

3.3.1d Thunder: 

Thunder like other natural phenomena alerts everybody, except the deaf of dangers. Thunders scare everybody and one would even see children, the aged and in fact everybody scampering away to safety.

3.3.1e Rainbow: 

When a rainbow is seen in the cloud, it alerts people of impending heavy rain.

3.3.1f Ocean/River/Creek: 

 Ocean, rivers and creeks are indications of natural boundaries between communities.

3.3.1.g Farm Bumper Yield:

 A farmer may see another’s bumper yield and infer that the specie/variety or technique is good or the soil is fertile. An example of this process which is common in Africa is a farmer requesting cassava stem and/or maize grains from another farmer after seeing the farmer experiment with the crop.

4.0 CONCLUSION

This unit has shown that top-down extra-mundane communication entails the show of supernatural abilities and capabilities as supernatural beings through its priests/agents or signs communicate man.
It also con;uded that natural phenomena are fair, free and easily identified by people without class prejudice.

5.0 SUMMARY

This unit focused on potent speech, dream and telepathy as top-down extra-mundane forms of communication, highlighting their communication significance. It also discussed natural phenomena as channels of communication using wind, cloud, lightening, thunder, rainbow and creak/river/ocean as examples. It highlighted the communication functions of the various examples discussed.

Self Assessment Exercise

  1.  List the types of extra-mundane top-down communication discussed in this unit.ii. Define natural phenomena as a form of extra-mundane communication.

6.0 TUTOR-MARKED ASSIGNMENT

  1.  Discuss two forms of extra-mundane top-down communication in your community.
  2.  List five examples of natural phenomena.
  3. Explain the communication functions of the five examples listed.

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