Here is a piece from an essay I’m working on concerning the supernatural agency of the African epic hero:
Although nature is the most important connection of supernatural activation, it is equally necessary to examine the birth of the epic hero as a distant entity in the epic story. In various West African spiritual traditions, the human being is incarnated with a soul, an ori, which has been strategically chosen by the Creator of the Universe. The person has a destiny and a higher will that must be fulfilled with the help of their ancestors and the guiding spirits. For the sake of clear connotation, the terms “supernaturalism” is equivalent to the term “magic.” Magic can be interpreted as the human’s intersection with the supernatural forces and the consequences thereof. The hero is endowed with a great destiny, which corresponds with his level of epicness, and with the aid of the supernatural, his success is inevitable. The Bamana people of Mali identified an energy called “nyama,” (Deme 28) which is the Mande word for occult (supernatural) power of spoken word. It is the belief that mystical power rests within the linguistic structure of words and names, so speaking them aloud manifests great power. The function and importance of this force are taught to individuals who hold this power in order for them to understand their command over the forces of nature. Due to the vastness of nyama, there is dire need for sorcery as a means to teach people how to control and redirect the force in a way that is beneficial for the good of humankind (Deme 29).