Home African communication systems 11 VENUE-ORIENTED CHANNELS OF COMMUNICATION


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This unit focuses on venue-oriented communication in African communication. Venue provides a meeting place for exchange of information in African countries. Hence it is worthy of examination.


At the end of this unit of study, should be able to:
  1. Define venue-oriented communication
  2. Explain the main features of venue-oriented communication
  3. Outline and explain some examples of venue-oriented communications •Explain the communication functions of some venue-oriented ceremonies


3.1.0 Venue-Oriented Communication Media

Wang (1982) in Wang and Dissanayake (1984) stated that some venue oriented communication media involve interpersonal communication, which operates at different levels in the society, but primarily at individual and small group levels; communication takes place in village meetings, clubs, or even other local meeting places such as community teahouse and open market. The duo stated further that although the primary function of these media and channels may not be communicative, together they interact with one another to form a network which constitutes information environment of people in most rural areas in the third World. This might account for why venue oriented communication is referred to in some literature as unstructured channels.

3.1.1 The Main Features of Venue-Oriented Communication

The main feature of venue oriented communication is that it is unstructured. Unstructured communication is not organised or orchestrated but spontaneous and informal. Some indigenous organisations provide many opportunities for such unstructured communication before, during and after meetings and other activities. According to Mowlana (1983), it is better illustrated by some examples of informal networks. Unstructured channels in indigenous communication occur in many other settings: talk at home; well; river; on the road; in the tea house; at coffee shop; in a chief’s house; market; beer parlour; and wherever else people meet and talk (Mowlana, 1983).

3.1.2 Venue-Oriented Communication Media: Some Examples Market: Hodder (1964) in Ugboajah, (1980) defined the market as an institutionalized activity occurring at a definite place and involving the meeting of people there at a particular time. It is an authorised public centre for buyers and sellers of commodities to meet. This definition may really represent today’s market as people buy and sell on the Internet and through telephone, post office, and courier companies. Besides, it is not goods that are bought and sold in the market, but also services. Again, Nwuneli (1983) described that market as a network of informal communication media.

In Nigeria, the operational days of markets vary from place to place. While some are open everyday of the week (participants are mostly residents of that community), and the kinds of information that are common in such markets are mainly local information about what is going on in the town, and gossips about current happenings or scandals. Others have a cycle which may range from three to seven days (participants are residents and non-residents of that community), depending on the part of the country (Nwuneli, 1983). The Communication Function of the Market

In African societies, the market place is an effective informal channel of information dissemination. Unlike the town crier or folklore, the market generates soft news. The only hard news generated internally by the market itself is the trade statistics and price index of that particular market, the neighbouring markets, and the largest market nearest to the reference village or town. The trade statistics and price indices are outside the competence of the town crier. However, because of the horizontal nature of communication in the market place, high volumes of information disseminated there have low accuracy and credibility. So, most of the information received in the market is often verified for authenticity by the recipient before use. The market medium only carries hard news that requires no verification when the town crier appears in the market to make announcement. This is because those announcements are considered official. Similarly, information transferred from one market to another are like town crier or authority based if accurately transferred and are also often not verified by recipients. (Nwuneli, 1983). However, Nwuneli (1983) is at divergence with the view of Doob (1966) who stated that the kind of communication heard in a market cannot be predicted, because here, the audience and communicators represent many communities and, especially at large markets, many different societies.

Again, in looking at the communication function of the market in African communication, Omu (1978) stated that news circulate with great rapidity through the various processes of trading. Most communities had markets which were not only centres of trade but also a principal means of communication, information and recreation. They provided a most convenient forum to meet friends and kinsmen and exchange news and gossip, while bringing together large numbers of sellers, buyers and visitors, some from distant places. They create an atmosphere of festivity and entertainment in which gossips and exchange of information flourished. Some markets were also terminal points of trade routes connecting different parts of one area with others, with foreign lands and civilisations. The caravans which plied these routes helped to distribute information. They gathered and relayed news as they passed from place to place communicating with fellow traders and collecting information on resources and prospects of trade.

These might account for why Ugboajah (1979) in his study, described the village market square as a powerful integrated force, an important news, interchange of gossip centre, a place of ceremonials and parades. Ugboajah’s (1979) position is somewhat at convergence with Akpan’s (1977) who stated that in market place communication, the traders are the news bearer and the market is the final phase of funerals, the heat of traditional dances and plays.

Markets that have cycles which range from three to seven days attract people other than the residents. Information is made available by buyers and sellers who have come from other communities about current happenings in their own communities. They in turn go away with information about events in the community where the market is taking place. It is, therefore, not uncommon to see people waiting patiently for the market day to clarify rumours or other types of news about happenings in other communities around them. These news range from politics, social events and traditional festivals. People are interested in all these kinds of news mainly because they want to know among other things, whether a conducive atmosphere exists in other towns and villages which may enhance their participation in the next market days scheduled to take place in such towns or villages. In addition to constant anticipation of increase in the price of good in next market days. Social Gathering (Organised and Spontaneous)

Death and funerals also attract large congregations which often include participants from neighbouring or distant places. These ceremonies often last quite long while weeping and wailing characterise such particular moments of death and burials. Other social gatherings include town or village festivals, marriages and circumcision feasts, naming, opening of new houses, public meetings and trials, propitiatory assemblies, open quarrels, disputes and several other aggregatory events which characterise African way of life (Ogwezzy, 1999). The Communication Functions of Social Gathering (Organised and Spontaneous)

Exchange of information is also promoted by means of organised and spontaneous gatherings which are fairly frequent in the Nigerian society. Since some ceremonies often last quite long, the intervening period within such social gatherings are usually occupied with gossiping, story telling and general exchange of information (Ogwezzy, 1999). Roads

In African societies, if people’s relations live at other towns, people travel along roads to reach them. Traditionally, such journeys were made by trekking on foot. It could take days but the road is the traditional channel of communication among people, their relations; and among communities, especially for upland dwellers (Ogwezzy, 1999). When they get to the homes of their relatives, the homes become the venue. However, the road can also function as a venue for communication as some people fix appointments to meet at a point on a road. The Communication Functions of Roads

Although, roads are channels, they are also venues of communication in Africa. In Africa, some people arrange to meet at a particular road either on their way to farm, market, river, et cetera to exchange information. Rivers

Like roads to upland dwellers, rivers and creeks serve swamp or riverine dwellers. At such places, people swim across streams, creeks and rivers to communicate with friends, relations; hold discussions and deliver messages, information and receive same if necessary (Ogwezzy, 1999). Apart from swimming, crafts and canoes are used to travel from place to place .They are concerned with physical movements in communication. The Communication Functions of Rivers

Although rivers are physical channels of communication in Africa, they are also venues. They are venues for communication because people plan and meet at particular river side to wash clothes and other domestic items as well as to exchange information (Ogwezzy, 1999).


This unit focused on venue-oriented communication. It argued that venue oriented communication is unstructured because it is spontaneous and informal.


This unit discussed venue-oriented communication using market, social gatherings, roads and rivers as channels. It also highlighted the communication functions of the various examples discussed.

Self Assessment Exercise

  1.  What is venue-oriented communication?


  1.  List two examples of venue-oriented communication
  2. Discuss the main features of venue-oriented communication


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