1.1 Background of the study
The contextual use of folk here refers to a group of people living within a given social environment, while media is considered to be the tools that enhance mass mobilization in that social environment. Therefore, folk media as a concept could be viewed as cultural methods of mass media. Onogu considers folk media to include;
Folk art, folk dance, folk memory, folk music, folk song folklore, folk tale and other forms and structures that collectively form traditional means of communication in a community (28).
In essence, folk media could also be termed “popular” media because the genres are drawn from the people’s popular preference, values, belief system and indigenous language making it an authentic instrument for information dissemination, education and development.
Folk media are a genuine means of communication and a true carrier of culture amongst various people. It inspires people to perceive the message or information more effectively. Folk media serves as a means of achieving the ultimate reality. Culture is the system of knowledge shared by a relative large group of people. Culture is communication and communication is culture. Culture according to Aguene; “is all the qualities which group man together and distinguish them from the rest of the animal kingdom” (84). Culture to a considerable extent, is preserved and promoted by tradition. Tradition is the handing down of beliefs, experiences and customs from generation to generation especially in oral form or by a process of traditional performance and communication.
Every human society has developed its indigenous or traditional modes and channels of communication which characterizes its existence, organization and development. These communication modes and channels form the basis upon which the communities, especially the rural community, policy makers, planners and administrators, desirous to effect functional economic and social changes, must first identify such community communication modes and channels, and utilize them to provide the people with maximum information about such changes. Communication, the transmission of information from a point called origin or source to another called destination or receiver (or audience), is the blood stream of every society. A society may be described as a group of people who have lived together long enough to share and evolve common culture, norms and values. Culture distinguishes one society from another and gives form and meaning to a people’s existence. Culture is defined by Oniou and Ogionwo as; “the complex whole of man’s acquisitions of knowledge, morals, beliefs, arts, customs, technology etc, which are shared and transmitted from generation to generation” (29).
In this definition, culture includes those things, which man has invented and produced that we can see, feel, or hear, as well as those aspects of man’s behaviour, which we cannot see, namely knowledge, beliefs or morals, language, philosophy, attitude etc. Communication is an act, a process of interaction carried out primarily through the use of sounds, signs and symbols. Such sounds, signs and symbols must arouse the same meaning in the other person (individual or group or people) as it does in one’s self (communicator). Communication is an aspect of culture and the non-material culture. Indigenous and traditional communication modes and channels, therefore, have a sort of cultural diversity.
There exists in many Nigerian cultures, stories that recorded the people’s cultural experiences. These stories serve as the repository of the people’s beliefs, social philosophies and observations about life. They also provide insightful information about their environments. In these stories, we find the people’s attitudes to natural phenomena and depict the way of life of a particular community. The stories are generally educative while they entertain the audience. They are also part of the socialization process, because through them, the community perpetuates its knowledge, values and experience. They attempt to explain the origin of existence, and also present the lives and contributions of great personages. In addition, they create a nexus between the past and the present. Sometimes this past dates back to the primordial or prehistoric era.
Such modes and channels are identified, assessed and understood in the context of the particular culture and its value system. The communication process is initiated when the source or sender utters symbolic sounds, which refer to experiences, rooted in the environment. If the receiver or audience has had similar experiences, rooted in the environment and has been conditioned to associate the given sounds with those experiences and attach a common meaning, we then say that communication has been possible. The communication would be effective if the desired response follows.
Traditional African society by way of definition refers to the indigenous African community as distinct from the European Influenced town or city in Africa today. The population of the indigenous village society is usually homogenous, usually comprising only one ethnic or sub linguistic groups. This is opposed to the towns and cities which have a mixture of ethnic populations. In traditional African society, the inhabitants are usually farmers, fishermen or livestock keepers or hunters, depending on the natural geography of the location. There is division of labour usually according to sex. However, in spite of any such division of labour, there is homogeneity of ideas, customs and habits, which are manifested in the attitudes of the people to supernatural forces, social relation, entertainment and warfare. This means that the sense of community is very strong and every effort is made to keep it so and this is accomplished mainly through taboos. It is such attempt to preserve the culture and identity of the group, which has linked the contemporary traditional African society with the founding ancestors. These ancestors or gods as the case may be perform the function of intermediaries between the Africans and the Supreme being who they regard as the creator of the universe and everything therein.
It is a known fact that the culture of a people is their identity which ought to be guarded jealously. These days reverse has been the case and as a result, our identity is gradually fading away just because we African’s in a broader sense and Nigeria in a strict sense tend to ignore our culture and prefer that of our colonial masters who did not see anything good in our culture but termed them barbaric and unsophisticated. It is against this background that the researcher has decided to delve into this research work to determine the performance of Ukwuani folk media as an essence of the people’s cosmology and worldview.
1.2 Statement of Problem
In the academic circle and our society in general, there is a misleading conception that with the advent of modern mass media like radio, television, telephone, news paper, African traditional means of communication have been rendered redundant and ineffective. Some scholars of Mass Communication also hold the view that traditional means of communication is barbaric, mysterious and are avenues of witchcraft. If one examines our rich cultural heritage in the area of media practices like the gerontocracies, masquerade culture, festival performances, idiophones, membranophones, iconography etc, then the above statement could be untrue. African traditional means of communication are warehouses of traditional media practices that have even proven to be more effective than the so called mass media in information dissemination. This is because apart from many other reasons, they encourage more “physical contacts” than the western mass media. It is against the background of the demystification of this concept that this research work intends to show the relevance of traditional means of communication in understanding and appreciating the Ukwuani people’s cosmology and worldview.
1.3 Research Questions
This research seeks to answer the following research questions:
- Are folk media practices still relevant in this era of the 21st century?
- Is it worthwhile for our festival tradition (as found in our traditional societies of yester-years) to be regenerated in this modern time of the 21st century?
- Is the use of folk media relevant to the Ukwuani people’s understanding of their world?
- Is there any relationship between the different folk media and the people’s cosmology and worldview?
1.4 Objectives of the Study
This research intends to touch Ukwuani speaking people of Delta state to know the extent to which their media (folk) carry out their roles in promoting their cultural awareness, belief system and identity. In other words, this work seeks to determine the Ukwuani folk media as an essence of the people’s cosmology and worldview. The Ukwuani people are generally called Ndokwa people. In the cause of this research, both terms will be used interchangeably. Specifically, by the end of the research the following objectives would have been attained:
- It would have been ascertained that, folk media practices are still relevant in this era of 21st
- It would have also been ascertained that it is worthwhile for our festival tradition (as found in our traditional societies of yester-years) to be regenerated in this modern time of the 21st
- It would have been made manifest that the use of folk media is relevant to the people’s understanding of their world.
- It would have become obvious that there is a relationship between the different folk media with the people’s cosmology and worldview.
1.5 Significance of the Study
This study will help to identify the roles played by the folk media of the Ukwuani people in propagating their culture which is their identity as a people as evident in their festivals. It will help those of them who do not know their root and are not familiar with their belief system to know it.
Also, this study will be of immense benefit not only to the Ukwuani people but Delta State and Nigeria in general because it will contribute to their knowledge which will in turn make them become better citizens, being aware of the dos and don’ts of their society. It is however hoped that the work will be a useful foundation for the full understanding of this important system in Ukwuani culture and worldview. This work will also be beneficial to students of history who will have easy access to this document.
The work will thus, showcase the cultural heritage of the Ukwuani people and finally, it will serve as a reference material to intending researchers who may want to research into similar aspects of the people’s lives.
1.6 Delimitation/Scope of the Study
The statement of the problem of this study has an implication on its scope .This study is an investigation of the folk media of the Ukwuani people as an essence of their cosmology and worldview. Aboh community is selected in Ndokwa-East while Utagba-Uno is selected in Ndokwa-West local government area.
The study is divided into four chapters: Chapter one states the background of the study and it also spells out the research problems, the rationale behind the study, significance, scope, limitations and methodology of the study. Chapter two is the review of relevant literature on the nature of traditional theatre, folk media, performance and the theories related to the study. Chapter three examines the Ukwuani people’s cosmology and worldview, their traditional programmes as well as their festivals. Chapter four presents an analysis of the people’s folk media while chapter five concludes the study and makes the necessary recommendations.
1.7 Limitations of the Study
Lack of information on previous writings about the Ukwuani people was one of the biggest challenges the researcher met in the course of this research work. Given the wide scope implied in the analysis of the Ukwuani folk media here, it has not been possible to do detailed justice to every aspect of the topic. There was also a problem of knowing the actual oral account as each people interviewed each gave their own account of the origin of their people.
1.8 Research Methodology
In the course of this research, two methodologies were used, they include: the Historical and the Sociological Methodologies. According to Ukala,
Historical Methodology entails the investigation of documented sources, such as books, journals, reports, films, video and audio tapes, archival material, archaeological excavations, artefacts (such as carvings, drawings, sculpture, paintings and textile print) as well as oral sources. The function of this methodology is to trace the beginnings and development of people, institutions and things. The historical methodology is employed to establish facts and occurrences in specific places and periods (12).
This method is used to investigate the origin of the Ukwuani people as well as their worldview. The researcher accomplished this task by consulting the few books that are available on the topic of discussion.
The Sociological Method according to Ukala:
Involves a high degree of the researcher’s interaction with the society being studied. His/her source will be mainly oral…. The function of this methodology is to describe, expose, or establish what is, its causes and effects and point to requirements for its maintenance, improvement or discouragement (13).
This methodology is employed in this work to investigate the origin of the Ukwuani people through oral interview conducted by the researcher in the three local government areas.
The researcher interacted with the members of the various communities and interviewed them on the issues concerning their origin, culture, festivals and their general worldview. Some of the communities where the researcher carried out interviews are Utagba-Uno, Aboh, Kwale and Akarai Etiti. The interview with various persons in each of the communities visited was recorded by the research assistant on his mobile phone and referred to by the researcher in the actual writing of the final report.
The researcher also observed the Egwu Amala of the