Open Journal of Philosophy
2013. Vol.3, No.1A, 122-125
Published Online February 2013 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
African Culture of Communication in the Global Village:
The Experience of Ogba People in Rivers State Nigeria
Uche A. Dike
Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island, Nigeria
Received September 12th, 2012; r e v ised Octo ber 12th, 2012; accepted October 26th, 2012
The contemporary world today has evolved into a global village. This civilization owes its existence to
fast means of communication systems. Thus the global world is knighted into one political economy.
Distances are reached under seconds. Notwithstanding the fast means of communication gadgets in our
time, African traditional means of communication has survived the test of time. What then has been the
connection of Africa traditional means of communication and politics? The answer to this question, spe-
cifically as operative in Ogba land is the main thrust of this paper. The issues in discourse include com-
munication and the socio-political sphere, the town crier and Ogba socio-political culture using the litera-
ture approach.
Keywords: Africa; Culture; Ogbaland
The Ogbaman is a man of adventures (Ofoegbu, 1982: p.
212). He is most open (compared in general terms with the
other peoples of Nigeria) to other cultures and faster in the
acceptance of western ideas. Despite the “open culture” of the
Ogba and his mobility in the world, which cannot totally be a
credit, we note that he sticks to his rural communities and heri-
tage. The modern trend now is quite indicative of the point in
question. Rural development as a new economic and political
trend in Nigeria, has flourished very well in Ogbaland. In spite
of this modern trend, we notice that over 70% of the Ogba still
live in the rural areas. In this regard, those in the rural areas
(despite development projects like rural electrification, water
and road construction schemes) depend mostly on what we call
tradition communications for the dissemination of information.
This is so since decree No. 24 of 1st April, 1976 has not yet
been completely revoked. This decree assigns the ownership of
the electronic media to the Government. No community, No
matter its political and economic strength, may own any of such
media. The recent development permitting private electronic
media is yet to work out. To this effect most communities, as
said above, still depend on tradition al communicatio n med i a.
As Dukor (2010: p. 88) has stated:
Oral tradition is one of the theistic animistic elements of
African folk literature which serves as a vehicle for histo-
riography and communicative actions consist of folk tales,
ballads songs, epic narratives, myths and legends, riddles,
proverbs, recitations and chants.
For Dukor a tradition is oral if it has no written literature or
sacred scriptures and this is the case with the Ogba people
whose traditional mode of communication with the masses are
not written down. The town crier is a veritable instrument of
communication with the people. Intergovernmental conference
on communication policies in Africa” held in Yaounde from
22-31 July, 1980 defines traditional communication as follows:
Traditional communication appears in various forms of
artistic expression: verbal art (dialogue, story-telling,
singing, proverbs; corporal expression (dancing, music,
mime); dramatic art (plays, rituals); visual or graphic ex-
pression (drawings, decorations, costumes, etc.); games
and rite; gatherings (religious feasts, markets, meetings,
ceremonies); musical instruments and craft tools. All
these media may be used for socio-cultural purposes, such
as the transmission of the cultural heritages and the pass-
ing-on of skills and knowledge. They are often used by
adults in the education or training of young people; they
may also be used to encourage popular participation in
decision-making” (Inter-governmental Conference on
Communication Policies in Africa, 1980: p. 22).
When we talk of the Ogba traditional communications, we
mean in this regard the modes of communication that are abo-
riginal in the traditional geo-politics of Ogbaland (Okonkwo,
1985: p. 20). The Yaounde Conference duly emphasized that
the traditional communications function most in what it called
oral tradition. According to the conference;
The oral tradition has its roots in the people and implies
active participation by the community. It gives the indi-
vidual a frame of reference, based on the realities of his
own society, and creates in general the images of myths of
a vaster world. It provides an immense framework for ar-
tistic creation and the dissemination of culture and infor-
mation needed for everyday life and the struggle for sur-
vival (Intergovernmental Conference on Communication
Policies in Africa, 1980: p. 22).
The traditional communications will continue to play vital
roles in every social context of the rural Ogba society of today.
No matter the degree of modernization, traditional communica-
tions cannot be overlooked without a serious harm and a lasting
effect on the Ogba rural life and system. These traditional me-
dia, as mentioned above, constitute today the vital elements of
the Ogba cultural identity. The main functions of traditional
communication among others include: medium for the democ-
ratization of communities; medium for the participation of the
people in their community affairs; medium for the struggle
against foreign occupation and medium for the efforts to con-
solidate national unity. The relationship of these four points to
the political mind of the traditional Ogba is the interest of this
paper. Before we focus on the political life of the Ogba, let us
first of all explain the relationship between communication and
politics in general (Dukor, 2010).
Communication and the Socio-Political Sphere
The connection between communication and politics is clear.
Every political philosophy is a “blue-print” of the cultural iden-
tity and communication heritage of any given people (Okonkwo,
1985: p. 58). This made Schram (1963: p. 34) to say:
… the structure of social communication reflects the
structure … of society. The size of the communication
roles of traditional society to organizations, the stretching
chains reflect the economic development of society. The
ownership of communication facilities, the purposeful use
of communication, the controls upon communication
these reflect the political development and philosophy of
society. The content of communication at any given time
reflects the value pattern of society. The patterns of com-
munications networks, which determine where informa-
tion flows and who shares it with whom reflect the ho-
mogeneity of culture and geography within a society.
There is always a perfect linkage between communication
and politics. Communication has always played formative and
informative roles in the society. It aims at directing the indi-
vidual in society. The political impact of communication is
noticed in the society when we understand that politics and
communication serve the same purpose in the motivation and
promotion of immediate and ultimate aims of the society.
Communication and politics act jointly onto the personal
choice-changes fostering and gearing the individual in society
towards the pursuit of agreed or non-agreed aims and objectives
of the said society. The Macbride Report of 1980 rightly notes
that communications are indicative of political systems in any
given society. According to this document:
Communication, taken as a whole, is incomprehensible
without reference to its political dimension, its problems,
and cannot be resolved without taking into account politi-
cal relationships. Politics, to use the word in the elevated
sense, has an indissoluble relationship with communica-
tion (Macbriede, 1980: p. 18).
Talking about communication in this paper, we mean to em-
phasize that the Ogba traditional media of communication are
by implication, instruments of politics. The crucial point is that
any given societal operation between power-struggle and free-
dom of speech is politics. In this respect, mass media are so
allied to the power structure of society. Inevitably, they serve to
support and maintain power structures and dominant ideologies.
The mass media present a world view to members of society
which regenerates continually and a world view to members of
society which regenerates continually and pervasively the
ideological structures that are required for the maintenance of
the existing power structure (Howitt, 1982: p. 16). Macbride
further explained the inseparability of politics and communica-
The framework within which communication takes place
is ultimately determined by the political and social strug-
gles which have shaped the prevailing social conscensus
in a given society. The way communications are organ-
ized in a … society is basically a political decision reflect-
ing the values of the existing social system. At a prag-
matic level, solutions to the political problems of commu-
nication depend on finding a balance between the legiti-
mate interest of the state and the rights of access to infor-
mation that may be extended to diverse sections of opin-
ion. These solutions will necessarily vary according to the
political structure, the degree of development, and the size
and resources of each nation” (Macbride, 1980: p. 21).
At close-range observation, we can further underline the re-
lationship between communication and politics when we re-
view in general terms two concepts under which any given
communication medium can operate. The two key concepts
include: 1) authoritarianism in communications; 2) libertarian-
ism in communications. Under the authoritarian communica-
tions concept:
We understand that the essential characteristics of the
given society is that the state ranks higher than the indi-
vidual in the scale of social values. The individual
achieves his goals and can develop his social attributes
only through his subordination to the state. This means
that the individual can only do very little since the state
ranks higher and also the state has a certain amount of
caretaker function and the individual has a degree of de-
pendent status. In a case like this the information access is
restricted only to those members of the community or
state that would operate the “bonum commune” as con-
ceived, and planned by the rulers, party-politicians and
ideologists on power in the time in question” (Peters,
2012: p. 13).
Communication and politics of this nature is fashioned by
censorship—as in the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and Faseist
Italy etc. When we talk of the libertarian communication we
mean that public communication is expected to serve the indi-
vidual as a “human right”. According to this concept, the indi-
vidual is an independent rational being, able to choose between
alternatives. The community in this case exists to provide for
the individual the fertile milieu in which he can develop his
natural endowments or potential so as to enjoy maximum free-
dom of expression. In this context, communication-politics
would be measured by the gratification and use from the base: a
down-to-top and not top-to-down publicity i.e. a “horizontaliza-
tion” of communication.
The Town Crier and Ogba Political System
We want to use the example of one of the methods of com-
munication (the town crier) which is still common in most tra-
ditional Ogba communities to explain the Ogba communicating
culture. According to research findings (Okonkwo, 1985: p. 26),
the Town Crier is the custodian of the society’s information
media: It is most important to note that the Town Crier, al-
though having the right of freedom of speech, disseminates the
information only in the sense he has received it from the “Con-
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 123
cillium”. The message he disseminates is that born out of the
common agreement of the council of chiefs head by the Oba of
Ogba Land, Oba Nnam chukwumela Obi II. He acts on instruc-
tions precisely given him by this adm inis trative circle.
We cannot complete this section without explaining what we
mean by the term “Ogba political system”. We know that po-
litical system may not mean general culture. We know also that
it is very difficult to create a boundary between them but spe-
cifically the political system underlines certain elements of
culture that give orientation to the members to respond as actors
or participants within the scope of their given political institu-
tions. We can define a political system to mean the specific
political orientation or attitude, towards the political culture in a
given society and the role of the individual within this system.
“It assumes that each individual must, in his own historical
context learn and incorporate into his own personality the
knowledge and feelings about politics of his people and his
community” (Olisa, 1971: p. 16).
In this manner we can emphasize the fact that the Ogba
communication culture permits commonness. When we talk of
commonness, we mean an egalitarian attitude and lack of con-
centration or centralization of leadership. Ogba political system
is primarily on a type of democracy in which consensus must
be achieved before any decisions could be effective and binding.
The traditional political authority depends totally on the “Con-
cillium and Consensus.” On the grounds of the above statement,
Olisa (1971: p. 25) agrees that the mechanism of the political
system of the Ogba is based on ideas reminiscent of the great
statement of Edward III of Britain in summoning the First Par-
liament, namely that ‘what touches all must be approved by all”.
Traditional Ogba, in this regard, could thus be spoken of as
practicing primary democracy similar to that of the classical
Greek city states. At all levels of society every adult male is
entitled to direct participation in the task of political decision
making. Ofoegbu (1982: p. 218) supports the above statement
when he asserts that; The Ogba cherish moral leadership and
influence particularly when these flow from wisdom, knowl-
edge and fairplay. At all levels of political and social organiza-
tion, they seek to avoid coercion as an instrument of public
policy. They haggle, bargain, persuade and conciliate, and ex-
pect from their leaders skills in negotiations and conciliation.
Hence, in the formation of public personality profiles, the Ogba
demand: moral attributes and leadership prowess; conciliatory
powers; Popularity arising out of democratic behaviour; Per-
sonal magnetism, and a spirit of adventure particularly in other
lands and in confronting challenges and difficulties. The socio-
political system of a traditional Ogba village means “the equal-
ity of opportunity”. Despite the heavy fragmentation or seg-
mentary social order as a result of the Ogba world-view; respect
and recognition of the common ancestory of the village group
or town; political engagement is built on common participation
and equality (David, 1965: p. 39,97,116). “Everyone can vote,
oppose or ratify a decision. The imposition of any ‘top-down’
authority is in an Ogba traditional conception unwanted and
abhorrent” (Joseph, 2011: p. 20).
From the above exposition, we can define the Ogba tradi-
tional communication to be: Commonness. Communication
according to Schramn comes from the Latin “communis” i.e.
common. When we communicate, we establish commonness.
This is to say that we are sharing information, idea, or attitude.
We have noted that the Ogba town Crier says nothing of his
making. His information is above his manipulation or he suffers
social menace. As a communicator, he claims credibility among
the audience. This is as a result of the “Concensus” behind his
news. Sola says “if a broadcast system is to activate a people it
must be trusted” (Sola, 1977: p. 136). The Ogba town Crier
knows his culture and interprets his message to fit the common
mind of his society. He is not only respec ted a nd rev ere d by h is
audience but he is perceived as credible because he says the
mind of the local “Concilium”. In this regard, his communica-
tion medium, the gong or the drum is decoded appropriately
and receives attention from the specific audience to whom they
are addressed (Ugboajah, 1980: p. 50). Having noted the hori-
zontally-layered process of the Ogba socio-politics, which di-
rectly implies the communication pattern, one could then say
that while the Ogba are republican in their political philosophy
their use of communication dimensions prove that they are
access-minded and democratic. If democratization of commu-
nication means making the communication media to be more
representative of the audience and allowing more participation
by the audience, we can practically conclude that the Ogba
traditional media and their communication patterns qualify in
this connection. There is more or less no personal control by the
leader of the community on the issues of a broadcast and infor-
mation. There is equality. Finally, the homogeneity of the Ogba
socio-political culture, their value patterns, information net-
works and participation are imbued in the said traditional media.
The Ogba traditional communication therefore—through their
human aspects, their direct contact and two-way (dialogue)
communication (which is the ontology of the Ogba social op-
erations) acts as regeneration factors for the Ogba cultural in-
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