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Sunday, October 09, 2016

Anambra State Shines At SACOMM Conference, South Africa, As Anambra Scholar Delivers Thought-Provoking Presentation

Anambra State of Nigeria was the focus of a presentation at a conference organised by the South African Communication Association (SACOMM) in Bloemfontein, recently.

The conference which held at the University of Free State in Bloemfontein had in attendance media, communications, arts and humanities scholars from around the world who gathered to engage on the broad theme of Communication from within and below: social transformation and inclusiveness.

In a paper entitled “Development Communication and the possibilities of its changing dynamics in an African context: Lessons from DevComm strategies in a named State Government in Nigeria”, Mr Chikezie Emmanuel Uzuegbunam engaged the conference audience on the various development communication strategies that the current administration led by Chief Willie Obiano is employing in communicating the development visions and missions of the State under the umbrella of “The Anambra Wheel of Development”. The paper was authored by the duo of Prof Kate Azuka Omenugha, a professor of Mass Communication and the Honourable Commissioner for Education in Anambra State and Mr Chikezie Emmanuel Uzuegbunam, a lecturer at the Department of Mass Communication, Nnamdi Azikiwe University and a PhD scholar at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

In the though-provoking and revealing presentation, the authors argued that for a long time, the practise of unthinkingly applying the western ideals as they relate to democracy and governance to Africa has become problematic and there is an urgent need to evolve an African-centric mode of leadership, governance and development communication. Using Anambra State as a case study, their study was therefore an inquisitive attempt to explore the ways that implicit and explicit development communication practices employed by Anambra State, Nigeria is fanning the flames of this clarion call for de-westernisation of western ideals in democracy and development communication. The paper highlighted the dynamic ways that development is being communicated in Anambra State Nigeria by engaging in qualitative analyses of government policy documents, speeches, government events, programs, artefacts such as emblems, official signifiers such as anthems.

The study revealed that Willie Obiano’s administration is making conscious efforts to revamp the self concept of Ndi Anambra, rebrand the image of the State and in so doing deal with identity and self esteem issues, uses “security” as a way to communicate Anambra as a State that is safe and secure for internal and external investments, and uses radio as a mainstream media to reach the rural mass. The study findings equally reveal that there is a “conscious use of self” by the governor in communicating his passion, readiness and commitment to bringing sustainable development in the State in addition to the symbolic way the governor uses “The Stakeholders Forum” in deepening this engagement with Ndi Anambra and others.

The significance of this study is that by beaming the light on what Anambra State is doing, the authors made the assumption that the idea of evolving an African-centric, context-specific development communication strategies are very much possible.

The overall conference theme attempts to grapple with the spirit of the times, by examining the role of communication in today’s tumultuous climate. Most conference presentations captures the identity-centred approach that communication strategies taken from local knowledge and geographies can play on creating a great African society.

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