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The Virtues of Silence

On radio and television; voice and text messages on mobile telephones; e-mails, in chat rooms, and on social network sites on the internet the conversations never stop.

But here in Africa with our strong oral tradition, conversations are the bedrock of social life at home, in the market, and among peers at the village square. As more and more of us head to the cities, the arena for talk moves to urban places the bus, barbing (or hair dressing) salon, the office and the ultimate social space for guys (men) the ‘beer parlour’, where the passion for the subject matter which is often foot ball, is very palpable.

Meanwhile, in all these chattering that is going on just about everywhere, those who truly listen seem to benefit more from the discussions than those doing the talking. Moreover, in our attempts to use our thoughts to counteract the thoughts of others, no one notices the goodness of a quiet mind.

In such a state of calm, the mind is usually more open and receptive to facts and figures; and can also review new ideas and information in a non judgmental manner. And contrary to popular notions, silence even in close relationships does not connote one party ignoring the other person, but an act of fully being aware of the other person and / or what he or she may or may not be saying.