TRADITIONAL COMMUNICATION AND PROMOTION OF GOOD HEALTH HABITS
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The study examines the role of the traditional media of communication and promotion of good health habits in Uruan Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. Not withstanding the availability of modern communication gadgets such as radio, television, newspapers and magazines, the traditional media of communication peculiar to Africa are still being put to use. In this study, we sought to determine the availability, usefulness and limitations of those media in Uruan Local Government. We also sought to ascertain the extent to which the local communication media have contributed to the development of the area. To realize this, we adopted the symbolic interactionism theory to explain the relationship between the people’s culture and their modes of information dissemination. Survey design was adopted with interview and participant observation as instruments for data collection. We interviewed 11 respondents who mainly constituted the traditional rulers in the area along with some academics of Uruan origin. We found that traditional media are well utilized in information dissemination in Uruan and they have aided development in the area. They believe that their local communication media are more accessible to them than the modern media of mass communication. Of all the media, the town crier remains the most common despite its shortcomings. But the area has suffered both neglect by governments and difficult natural terrain to the effect that the inhabitants lack basic amenities. Respondents said their terrain did not allow them to follow modern development trends and are therefore dependent on their local communication media for interaction. We therefore conclude that the local media have been effective in rural development. Our recommendations were for the rural dwellers to restructure their local communication media to be more effective in information dissemination; and for governments to pay attention to the condition of the rural dwellers. We also recommend that the modern media should consider ways of using their media in conjunction with those of the rural communities to ensure an all-inclusive information dissemination process in the rural areas.
Table of contents page(s)
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background to the Study
1.2 Statement of the Problem
1.3 Objectives of the Study
1.4 Research Question
1.5 Significance of the Study
1.6 Delimitation of the Study
1.7 Limitation of the Study
CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
2.1 Concept of Rural Development
2.2 Concept of Traditional Communication
2.3 Oral Tradition
2.3.1 Town Crier
2.3.2 The small iron gong for the town crier
2.3.3 Talking Drum
2.3.4 Age Groups
2.3.5 Smoke Signals
2.3.6 The Open Market
2.3.7 Masquerade Outing
2.4 The Role of Traditional Media of Communication in Rural Development
2.5 Theoretical Underpinning
CHAPTER THREE: METHODOLOGY
3.1 Research design
3.2 Population of the study
CHAPTER FOUR: RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
4.1 Traditional means of Communication common among the Uruan People
4.2 Usefulness of Traditional media in the Community Health
4.3 Limitations of these media in the community
4.4 Whether the traditional means of communication in Uruan are more accessible to the people than the modern means of communication
4.5 Causes of the low popularity of traditional media compared to modern mass media and suggestion on how to revive them
CHAPTER FIVE: CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION
1.1 Background to the Study
In distant past, the people that lived as families and clans in villages and towns communicated among themselves with different communication media. From the Stone Age up to the present computer generation, communication has been a tool with which to interact and sustain individuals and societies in general.
Communication is the sharing or exchange of ideas, information, knowledge, attitude or feeling among two or more persons through certain signs and symbols with or without the purpose of affecting or changing the receiver either positively or negatively. Communication is central and critical to all human activities such as rural and national development as well as promoting good health habits. No community ever survived without communication.
In recent years, health professionals have developed a growing appreciation of the critical role that communication plays in healthcare. The effective communication of information on medical conditions and healthy lifestyles has played an important part in the improvement of the health status of people in the society. Communication thus plays an integral role in the delivery of healthcare and the promotion of health habits. Communication is used in creating public awareness, encouraging healthy behaviours, changing attitudes and motivating individuals to adopt recommended behaviours. This shows that communication and health are closely related and this dialectical relationship between communication and health has given rise to a specialized field of communication known as health communication.
Health communication, according to Ratzan (1194), cited by Batta and Wilson (2013), is the act and technique of informing, influencing and motivating individuals, institutions and the public on important health issues. It encompasses the study and the use of communication strategies to inform and influence individual’s and community’s knowledge, attitude, practices and decisions with regard to health. Health is not just about the absence of diseases or infirmities, but also the same condition of man, physically, mentally and socially. Without good health, not much is possible. Politics, education, agriculture, trade and commerce; all depend on an optimal enjoyment of good health (Batta, 2013).
Health promotion is in the province of public communication, which confers a responsibility on individuals toward their fellow citizens. It serves the primary purpose of softening the ground for effective take-off of individual and national development. Thus when people are adequately informed about what it means to be in good health, and how they can be in good health, there is need to further persuade them to take practical steps toward achieving this in order to live a better life. The notion of promotion therefore operates on the premise that those living at the periphery where poverty, hunger and diseases are more pronounced, need to be educated, sensitized and be motivated continually to practise and participate in programmes and projects that will help them to be aware of their actions and activities towards the achievement of good health.
Health promotion is a communication action. Hence, the message code needs to be properly conceived and delivered in order to bring about the desired attitude and behavioural change of human, community, state and the nation at large. The people in Uruan, like those in other communities in Akwa Ibom State, are people afflicted by the vicious cycle of poverty, ignorance and illiteracy. The dominant means of communication in Uruan are those of traditional communication.
Hence the traditional media are communication channels which reflect a people’s culture. They were not introduced to the people like the mass media, but are part of the people (Nwabuleze, 2007; Nwodu and Nwanmuo, 2006). Traditional media which have been identified as folk media or oramedia (Ogboajah, 1985) include the town crier, church, village square, market place, chief in council, dance, music, native language, proverbs, folklores etc. Traditional media make it possible for message to be packaged and transferred in locally popular artistic forms which make it possible for the rural people to understand and assimilate.
Like the mass media, these traditional media also perform some normative functions in the society. Some of these functions include the education of the citizenry as well as the mobilization towards good health habits. It is in the light of the above that this study seeks to ascertain the extent that the traditional media in Uruan have contributed to the promotion of good health habit among the people of Uruan.
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