Virtual reality, we are told, is a way of simulating the real world. One, or more of the senses is sent electronic signals that replicate an illusory world. But things are not that cut and dried. Virtual reality is reality for reality is, itself, always illusory. We do not apprehend the world directly, only perceptually. And so all reality is virtual. Before Europeans invented electronic versions, Africans had long, long ago created the first, and still the greatest, virtual reality. African virtual reality is “nommo”, the power of the word in all its forms. Africa gave the world speech. And the spoken word ignites the mind. Say it, and those who hear it, see it in their mind’s eye. Think and then speak, and the listener is given your thought. The listener replies and, in turn, ignites sounds, pictures, tastes and touches in your mind. Isn’t that telepathy?

Africa gave the world writing too, another form of nommo. Thoughts cut into stone speak volumes five millennia later. Words printed on a page are studied for decades. And messages sent through the net are read instantaneously. Television and the movies, though not referred to as such, are, in fact, forms of virtual reality. Specific sounds and visions, bright, loud and mesmerizing. On the other hand, the African virtual reality called reading, stimulates the mind. It does not merely imprint it. You pause, at will, halting the stream, to think on what you read, to accept or to reject, or just meditate upon it, and perhaps create something new, that you, in turn, pass on. So there you have it, nommo in all its forms. African virtual reality is, and will always be, the Real Thing!

by Dr. Arthur Lewin, author of Africa Is Not A Country: It’s A Continent,