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Shvoong Home>Social Sciences>Perspectives in African Traditional Communication Systems Summary

Perspectives in African Traditional Communication Systems

Book Summary   by:ikem     Original Author: DEDE ELEME J KONKWO
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Before the coming of the white men to Africa in the wake of evangelization and christianization and the subsequent colonization of many parts of the continent , Africa, south of the Sahara, had evolved in its ways of life.this cultural evolution has manifested itself in various significant ways.We think in this regard of the Nok culture which is considered to be the oldest in its category, dating conservatively to between 500 BC and 200 AD. This culture which spans more than 2000 years has been uncovered by Archaeologist only within the last five decades. The Nok culture is credited with producing the earliest known Terra cotta sculptures in sub-Saharan Africa.Noteworthy are also the Benin bronze which date from the 17th century and which are considered to be an art form still in the process of development until they were abruptly terminated by the British punitive expedition in 1897. Eyo notes that it was in 1943 that the Nok culture came into the consciousness of the people as a culture worthy of recognition and attention. The Igbo-Ukwu art is also one that demonstrates the cultural ingenuity of a people that had to contend with the intrusion of colonialist forces into their blooming culture.
How ever, during this period of its cultural and artistic evolution , oral tradition , the process where by the social, economic and cultural heritage of the people is communicated by word of mouth from one generation to another had become the most developed and predominant form of communication in many parts of Africa. But as the white men came, this aspect of this African indigenous civilization began to experience some of the most systematic Trauma as a result of colonialism. The colonial masters and their scholars found it convenient not only to reject this veritable method for the preservation of the historical and cultural mores of the African people , but also to ridicule it. To them it was a hopeless and leak-ridden receptacle , which did not deserve to be respected. Being non-literate, the African people found this assumption very devastating as it rather questioned the very basis of their cultural being. In order to further legitimize his foothold on the continent, the colonial masters claimed and rather popularized the view that Africa had neither history nor culture except that which had been inaugurated by the British colonizing forces .Today, not many Africans would imagine that there was a time when it was seriously doubted that before the coming of the white man, Africans actually carried on with the business of living in all its ramifications and in such a way as was peculiar to them. But it is inarguable as it is incontrovertible that Africans indeed lived their lives and died their deaths ; they cultivated, built , ate , sang, danced , healed their sick, they created ; they communicated . It is, in the same light , contentious that Mongo park "discovered" the River Niger when we question for whom he actually discovered; as, prior to his expedition, there existed people for whom the Niger was a source of livelihood .Having said this, however, we must agree with the fact that the African method quite easily lent itself to machinations and or caprices of the conqueror.This is owing to the fact that the record of the African way of life was conduced and communicated by word of mouth from generation to generation and this heightened vulnerability to manipulation and denigration as it tended to create doubts as to the authenticity of such records. This was more so when viewed from the perspective that what was not written down was completely worthless as historical evidence, because it was subject to distortion or falsification. But it has been observed that oral historiography is peculiar to African situation alone, for indeed oral historians are the newest forms of historians but in fact , the oldest.But in spite of the fact that in reconstructing the early history of any people , the evidence of bard historians has been found to be indispensable, the colonialist system in Africa did not quite admit of this, especially as it was pre-occupied with the systematic dismantling and condemnation of the existing traditions of the colonized people so as to displace them with all that was British.

Published: October 18, 2008   
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