Words Mean More

By Rev. Robert Wafula. Rev. Wafula is the 52 years old CEO of Wamulu International, which operates in Bungoma, Kenya.

As the proverb goes, “Fine words butter no parsnips”, that is, spoken words carry deeper meaning than recorded information. And in this I strongly agree with Maya Angelou’s assertion that words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning. As examples are better than a theoretical argument, I will explain why I concur with Maya Angelou’s feelings by basing my arguments on the people who voiced their words to bring credible change around them.

One artist and great youth, Moses Radio and Weasel, in his album Bread and Butter, said:

Let us make an appointment. I no need disappointment but I need sweet arrangements.

The tune, intonation and gesture employed in the words portray shades of deeper meaning than when the same words are read on paper.

When the girlfriend needed a confirmation of the arrangements on paper, he said:

I do it better in a song. At a fire place one evening listening to my grandmother That when the Chiefs wifer Provided him with a long awaited daughter, He did not wait for a dream but made a unilateral decision And named the baby ‘Gift” much to the consternation Of his mother-in-law. The baby was not only pretty but had her father’s even temper. Indeed it was only when she was quiet ill that her voice could be heard in anything but happy laughter. She made one and all such a sunny smile that she soon earned herself the name “Omulayi” the good one.

Through the song, the words happy laughter and sunny smile were infused with shades of deeper meaning and portrayed much to the chief as he was able to measure the magnitude of his daughter’s health and determined the great name. The behavior demonstrated in her illness and sunny smile was a clear communication and manifestation of her true self to the Father.

I once witnessed a dispute solving meeting between a woman named Jane and a man named Isaac. Jane had clung on to Isaac for marriage because he had told her that she was beautiful. Jane pushed forward and stood in front of Isaac. “Look into my eyes. Did you not tell me I was beautiful? Isaac sighed: “of course you are beautiful. But I am sorry you misunderstood my compliment. I didn’t fall in love with my eyes. I use my heart, which I have already given to faith. I cannot marry you.” Isaac has been non-committal on marriage when he had said that Jane was beautiful. The words Isaac had used on Jane had a deeper meaning different to the one Jane had understood. In my observation, spoken words mean more than what is set down on paper. Jane wanted to use her beauty to marry Isaac but it was not the case with Isaac. He associated beauty with shades of deeper meaning.

Christopher Martin, in his song “Cheaters Prayer” said:

… as far as I can see,She loves only me,Me promise my girl fi only look inna her direction

Christopher has one of the most attractive and expressive voices you have ever heard and has the ability to use words take on a life of their own through his vocal expression. What interests me in how Christopher interprets the song? He began by a declaration that he did not welcome interferences so as to be accused of deceit by his girlfriend. He infused the same words with a promise and assurance that both are headed in one direction. I presume that any girl can acknowledge and accept the full force of his feelings for her.

Another example. Peter was in a relationship with Ann that lasted for a couple of years and later collapsed because Peter wanted marriage but Ann was buying time. Ann later discovered that her boyfriend had become attracted to another girl and was ready to marry. This rumour unsettled Ann’s mind and she felt like sobbing her heart out. She talked to herself in a low voice. She prettified herself ready to win Peter back. She felt like writing to him but thought it could be useless. Ann pretended to have become attracted to David, another staff mate, ensuring that Peter saw and understood the new move. The new friends agreed to meet on Saturday at noon at the foot of the mango tree where she used to meet Peter so that she could show her new friend around the village. She talked loudly enough for Peter to hear. On Saturday, at noon, Ann waited under the Mango tree. She was waiting not for David but for Peter whom she knew, as only a woman could know, would find an excuse for hanging around the area. David came up the road, strolling along with a nonchalant grin on his face. His eyes goggled at the sight of Ann. He walked up for her. They chatted for a while as her eyes kept scanning the bushes and foot paths around for a glimpse of Peter. She began to doubt the wisdom of what she had done to him in the staff-room trying to make him jealous and thirsty for her companionship by dating David.

Suddenly she saw Peter jogging towards them and she almost yelled with joy. She spoke words that never came out. Peter righted himself and jogged past them. The moment she thought it was wise to do so, Ann left David, who was filled with furious envy and disbelief, and she followed him. That was the new moment the two old friends were together again and finally planned to marry. When she caught up with him, Ann used her gesture and soft voice to tell Peter: “you are the only man who has ever made me think of marriage and I have met many men in my life but none like you” and kissed him. The possibilities of these actions – leaving David in despair, running after Peter, talking and kissing him, help us to understand that words mean more than what is set down on paper.

The statements in this story “the only man” and “none like you” is an excellent example of her talent and explained that the story refers to her struggle to reconcile with Peter for marriage.

The examples illustrate how it takes the human voice to infuse words with shades of deeper meaning. Ann did not honour the words she spoke to David and little did he know that he was used by Ann to win Peter. Ann had a different meaning in her new move when she got close to david. I believe that the words Ann spoke to Peter were infused with true love and emotions that must made him burst into a rapture of dance along the footpath I like a chicken with its head cut off.

In conclusion if you are interested to listen to and watch Radio and Weasel performance in his album the Bread and Butter or listen to Christopher Martin’s song the Cheater Player and or listen to Ann’s words to Peter, I presume that you will prefer verbal words manifesting deeper meaning through voices and gesture, to the written word.

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