Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Conference subthemes (quite a list) include:
Communication, Language and Culture
Communication and Gender
Communication and Democracy
Communication and Globalization
Communication and Cross-cutting Development Challenges, including health communication; communication and the environment etc.
(This list of subthemes is not exhaustive)
Abstracts are to be submitted as mail attachments to:
Mrs. Alexina Arthur, firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Dr Audrey Gadzekpo, firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Deadline for receipt of abstracts : 31 January 2009
Notice of acceptance of abstracts : 28 February 2009
Deadline for receipt of full papers : 31 May 2009
Monday, December 22, 2008
Des Wilson took a PhD in African indigenous communication from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria in 1988. Des’s thesis was on the indigenous communication media and channels of the Ibibio people in South-South Nigeria. Des defined indigenous media as those media of communication that had been in use before the modern mass media and are still in use today. Adopting some of his terms from music, he categorised these media into several groups including membranophones, ideophones, aerophones, symbolographic displays, extramundane communication and music. Examples of such media included talking drums, wooden drums, rattles, folk tales, tattoos, symbolic writing and codes. A little unwieldy, you might think. Yet, to many of us, Wilson’s work was not only an important improvement on the complicated work of Doob (1960) but also a take-off point and launch-pad for enquiry into African indigenous communication media and systems. And this has led to a number of graduate theses. Years after, Mundy and Compton (1991); Mundy and Lloyd-Laney (1992); Millar and Aniah (2005) and several others continue to map the territory of indigenous media a la Des, that is, as that which was there pre-colonially and is still being used today. With the probable exception of the chapter by Louise Bourgault, this line of thought runs through the book edited by Ghana’s Ansu-Kyeremeh, Indigenous communication in Africa (2005). Newspapers, radio and television are described as exogenous or foreign media; the exact opposite of indigenous media. Points of intersection and interaction between these exogenous and indigenous media are explored but as points of distinctly intersecting entities.
But the recent very brilliant book edited by Pamela Wilson and Michelle Stewart, Global indigenous media, defines indigenous media completely differently. Acknowledging the internal tension in the phrase “global indigenous”, the editors and contributors consider indigenous media as any media used by the indigenous peoples, defined by Manuel and Posluns as “people who have special nontechnical, nonmodern, exploitative relations to the land in which they still inhabit and who are disenfranchised by the nations they live”. Among such media are radio, television, cinema, and even the internet. "The stone rejected by the builders..." you might think. (“Interestingly”, Pamela Wilson’s book, which has fifteen chapters focusing on different peoples, has nothing to say about any of the peoples of Africa. Never mind that the title reads “Global...”. Contributors were drawn from across the globe: that is, from America and Europe!).
Whereas Des Wilson and others focus on the origin of a medium in classifying it as indigenous, Pamela Wilson and Michelle Stewart and others focus on the users of the media (the indigenous people). Does that say something about the difference between a media scholar and an anthropologist? This difference can take fundamental dimensions especially when mapping out research focus is the issue. And the difference will certainly persist especially since there is little or no interaction among the two groups of scholars symbolised by these two Wilsons. Maybe there should be a journal of indigenous communication studies to engender such interaction.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
The elections came. I went monitoring and observing the process with two sets of news writing students of my host college, College of Communications. I visited three voting stations: two outside and one on campus. I was stunned by the fact that there was not a single policeman in any voting station; I was stunned that people went to vote carrying their children with them—who could do that in my country where people go to voting stations not sure they would return alive or in one piece. I was stunned by the sheer number of nonpartisan organizations out there to help voters find their way and precinct. I was stunned that elections were handled by the states, and not by the federal government. Therefore each state (even county) designed its ballot papers and voting method. I was stunned that, accompanied by Jennifer Zeigler, a colleague and an instructor in news writing, I was allowed right up to the ballot cubicle though it was obvious that I was not a citizen. I was stunned by the sheer list of things people voted on: it was not just the presidential and congressional candidates. Folks were asked, in Fergusson Township, to vote on tenure elongation for County Council members. That too was on the ballot papers. I was stunned by the spirit which kept people on the queue for five hours plus without them complaining. I was too stunned to write—that is why this piece is coming this late.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Friday, October 31, was Halloween (or Hallowed Evening). Originally, Halloween was a pagan festival in Europe meant to welcome and placate spirits and ghosts who, it was believed, paid homecoming visits to the earth on November 1 each year. But Popes Gregory III and Gregory IV tried to Christianize Halloween and made November 1 the All Saints’ Day, and Halloween became All Saints’ eve. That was about the 9th century. But today, Halloween has little, if any, connection with the church. Rather, it is celebrated in queer ways characterized by the suspension of significant aspects of social norms and control. In fact, a church organised what it named a Christ-Centred Alternative to Halloween to keep members from participating in the pagan fun.
In State College, US, where I witnessed this year’s Halloween, Halloween symbols such as pumpkin and effigies of ghosts and spirits had been on display in schools, shops and private driveways two months before Halloween. I took the picture above from a charter primary/kindergarten school along Science Park Road. Yellow-and-black Halloween candies had been on sale for over two months. A neighbor displayed seven human skulls (not real) in front of his house. There was a general air of an approaching big festival everywhere. The day before Halloween, folks in strange costumes were in many places—they couldn’t wait for Halloween to come. I met a young lady in a supermarket clad in black attires with a two-foot hat. When asked, she proudly announced she was a witch dressed for a Halloween party.
On the Halloween day, schools ran half-day, and held parties. I met a "real" witch in another shopping mall. (See the picture to your left and the next picture). When asked if I could take her picture, she quickly reached for her witch broomstick and posed witchfully for the shot. Staff of a Department at the Penn State University agreed to celebrate this year’s Halloween by dressing, not as spirits, but as workmen—with helmets, boots, workman jeans and calloused gloves to match.
Halloween is a suspension of whatever made you your social you. In the evening, children dressed in Halloween costumes (ghosts, skeletons and the indescribable) went from house to house demanding candies—and people quickly gave them. They threatened a trick—if you refused to give the candies, and a treat—if you gave. These kids are called trick-or-treaters. And children from neighbors who don’t as much as exchange a glance on normal days knock on neighbor’s doors to demand for candies on Halloween. Talk of suspension of the social norms that inhibit us. (I saw a six-footer among the trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood though!)
For a minute I imagined Halloween in Nigeria. And why not? I used to carry, that is bear or wear, our family Egungun masquerade during Egungun festivals. And, though I was in high school, each time I wore the Egungun, even my father prostrated to salute me. I was no longer me; I was his great ancestor who had counted little him worthy of an ancestral visit. (To your right is the picture of a Yoruba Egungun). And my father, my uncles and aunts and our extended family never took that for granted. Flanked by smaller Egunguns, I demanded anything: chicken, pounded yam and gin, and my dad and the entire extended family quickly offered it--to the ancestors of course. Again, it was a momentary suspension of whatever made you your social you. If I knew candies, the youthful 'ancestor' most certainly would have demanded it.
Well, of course, Egungun is denigrated as a fetish ancestral worship. But there is a question. Last year December on a trip from New Malden to London, my friend and I had just passed by a burial ground and lots of folks were there laying wreaths on grave sites of their beloved long-departed. “Isn’t that ancestral worship?” I asked my British friend. “Oh, no. They’re just honoring their dead relatives”. If it were in Africa, it was ancestral worship; in Europe and America, it is fun or “just honoring” the departed and placating them with candies and flowers. Sometimes, it is too obvious that the only way to justifiably hang a dog is to call it a bad name. I think both Halloween and Egungun are, among other things, moments that we, almost justifiably, suspend the norms and our social ego—ironically still within the accepted boundaries of culture—and be who we wish to be but cannot always be.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Nigeria has added another to its string of firsts with the arrest of the popular writer of elendureports.com, Mr Jonathan Elendu, by the State Security Service (SSS). As reported by the PM News, Mr Elendu was picked up on Saturday, October 19, at the Nnamdi Azikwe International airport, Abuja, on his arrival from the United States. He is being held by the SSS for his alleged connection with saharareporters.com. Saharareporters.com is known for publishing top-secret stories and photographs of the gross misdeeds of Nigerian government officials including those of the president’s family members. Elendureports.com is far less aggressive and biting than sharareporters.com. There are rumours that the SSS is desperately inventing a web of accusations, including money laundering and sedition, to squeeze round Mr Elendu's neck. (Above is Mr Elendu's picture which I copied from bbc.co.uk)
Online journalism has been considered the safest form of journalism, the least susceptible to state clampdown. It has negotiated for itself a clear space in the public sphere for citizens’ engagement of government, its actions and policies. This form of journalism is understandably attractive to Nigerians given the experiences of orthodox journalists in the hands of the Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha—Nigerian military dictators who hounded and pounded journalists for nearly fourteen years. (See, for instance, Sunday Dare's Guerrila Journalism)
Media scholars and political scientists who support the idea of a free press find in online journalism an avenue for unfettered freedom of expression. Not only this, online journalism has led them to announce and in fact celebrate the death of gate-keeping and censorship. [See, for instance, Williams and Carpini’s (2000) “Unchained reaction: the collapse of media gate-keeping…”, Journalism (1) 1:61-85]. Jonathan Elendu’s arrest by the government of Nigeria should lead theorists to cut short this celebration and rethink the universality of their conclusions. This is the same way the recent invasion of Channels TV by the SSS calls for a rethink of press freedom in the Nigerian democracy. And those who call President Yar'Adua "Go Slow" should have a rethink: he can be very swift if the issue matters to him--his men did not allow Mr Elendu to even spend a second in Nigeria before arresting him. Nigeria!
There is some worry about the silence of most Nigerian papers on the arrest of Mr Jonathan Elendu. We do not know for sure why most papers, unlike bloggers, have been quiet on this. Even the BBC has done a report on the arrest. Do orthodox Nigerian journalists consider their online colleagues comrades or rivals? Maybe this is a good question for empirical investigation. However this goes, in my view, Nigeria is the first sub-Saharan African country and the second country in the world (after China) to attempt a clampdown on online journalism.
NB: I have edited this post slightly since after receiving Loomnie's comment.
Friday, October 17, 2008
On September 16, 2008, I announced on this blog that the Reading Association of Nigeria (RAN) was planning a national conference to be held in University of Uyo, Nigeria. The Conference took place from October 6 to 9. The first day was devoted to an up-skilling workshop for primary and high school teachers to acquaint them with current trends in teaching reading. The workshop was free for teachers of government schools; those from private schools had to pay. This was commendable social service by RAN.
There was a keynote address which focused on literacy structures for educational advancement and manpower development. The speaker stressed the strong challenges before RAN in its efforts to promote reading in Nigeria. One of the most interesting papers presented at the Conference was the one with the title: "Literacy skills in the language of medicine: the layman’s survival strategy".
Edidiong Umana presented the paper she and I prepared. (That is her picture to your left). Our paper carried the title: “Nigerian newspapers as sources of sickle cell education: what is there to read?” Our content analysis of Nigerian newspapers showed that despite the high prevalence of sickle cell disorder in Nigeria, the print media give it only minute attention—unlike HIV/AIDS. AIDS campaigns get international sponsorship and so attract media attention. We argued that the current greatest criterion for news selection is not found on the pages of journalism textbooks. That criterion is profit. Click here for the abstract. For the full version of the paper, send an email to Edidiong (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Contrary to what I predicted in my September 16 announcement of the Conference, not many presenters made recommendations to government. (But the joint communique issued at the end of the Conference did). Does this suggest that individual Nigerian scholars are losing faith in government? Are they asking: of what use have been the recommendations made to government over the ages? Is this doubt, disaffection or cynicism? Whatever the answer might be, it is important to know that I am not a reliable prophet.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
You can download a summary of the work here.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
News writing students are taught to append a description or an appellation to the name of an actor when they write the lead of a story if the actor is not prominent. The appended description brings the actor within the readers’ frame of reference and makes a piece more comprehensible. For instance, it is better to say, “Henry Bida, a sergeant in the Nigerian Army has been honored for his bravery…” than to say “Henry Bida has been honored for his bravery”. The latter lead keeps the reader wondering who the Henry is because Henry is not prominent. If it is a known person, for instance, Umar Musa Yar’adua, no description needs be appended.
However Masaba’s case ends, whether in his death with which some have threatened him, in jail or in freedom, Nigerian editors should know that, remotely or not, they robbed the man of his human face.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Sickle cell disease” The East African Medical Journal. Vol. 78, No 4 pp180- 186
Monday, September 15, 2008
Ojebode, A. (2005) “Tested, Trusted, Yet Frustrating: An Investigation into the Effectiveness of Environmental Radio Jingles in Oyo State Nigeria” Applied Environmental Communication and Education Volume 4; pp. 173-180. Click here for abstract.
Ojebode, A. & Sola Sonibare (2004) “A Little More than a strong Urge: An Investigation into the Influence of Radio Reading Programmes on Listeners’ Practice of reading” West African Journal of Education Vol. xxiv, Number 1; pp. 79-89. Click here for abstract.
Ojebode, A. (2004) “Media Globalisation and the responses of the Nigerian Broadcast Media: Implications for Democracy and Development” International Review of Politics and Development Vol. 2, No 2; pp. 40-53. Click here for abstract.
Ojebode, A. (2004) “Empathising in Cyberspace: A Study of Empathy among Members of an Internet Group” Multidisciplinary Journal of Research Development Vol. 3, No 1; pp. 87-95. Click here for abstract.
Akinleye, L. & Ojebode, A. (2004) “World Information Imbalance: the Domestic Dimension” Topical Issues in Communication Arts & Sciences Vol. 2 pp. 15-24. Click here for abstract.