Fundamentals of Human Communication by Prof. Des Wilson



This book is a product of an academic necessity which stared the contributors in the face in 2003. In today‘s communication teaching and learning worlds, no one text has ever been found to be satisfactory even when written by the best minds. Existing texts, local and foreign, were written from perspectives which did not really reflect the academic drumbeat which all of my colleagues in this project could dance to. Some of the local ones have their shortcomings, which this text set out to address sometimes more grievous than the foreign ones. Clearly, the foreign ones are written from a perspective which are not really reflective of the experience of teachers and practitioners In the developing world. While many of them are helpful in addressing the technical aspects of communication, many others just lack the cultural relevance which our experience demands. Indeed it may be argued that since communication and its technologies have essentially been globalised then there is little reason to expect a localisation of a culture which possesses the capacity to force itself on the rest of the world. But that is beside the point. Rhetoric and reality are two different things. For, pretend as we may wish to, the reality in Nigeria
alien to its effective and successful manipulation and use. Therefore, as African scholars we must put these new schemes at the service of our culture. In the light of this situation, communication scholars have the task of adapting some of these principles to enable their students to fully understand the implications of what they may find in Western texts or in the Internet. It was against this background that this project was broached in 2003 as a possible quick-fix Solution to the dearth of relevant and useful texts.

Fundamentals of Human Communication as a child of circumstance is a product of thirteen scholars, none of whom has had less than five years teaching experience at the tertiary level. Many of them have had experiences spanning at least three Nigerian institutions and learning experiences drawn from several cultures and communication-delivery institutions. This text is therefore meant essentially to address the multidisciplinary nature of communication studies which some have pigeon-holed into mass communication. Unfortunately because of the strategic positions of some of our colleagues, even policy makers have bought into this limiting periscope. What we have here largely reflects the thinking of the Uyo School of Communication where communication and other pedagogical issues connected to it are seen as too large to be boxed in a concept which itself is going out of fashion even in cultures where it originated. The problem with this ‘old-school’ perspective is that technology has been mistaken for the message not exactly in the McLuhanic sense.

Communication studies is so large today that if technology were to be the only deciding element in it then we would have all gone to sleep and allowed technology to do the work for us. Clearly we now have a situation where we cannot speak of communication (nor its ‘mass’ adjunct) without reflecting on the receptive and productive skills which bring it about. Whether it is ‘mass’, ‘human’, ‘traditional’, or ‘technical’ we cannot have a communication engage if we ignore its basic systems of production and reception. We cannot in fact have a true communication if we ignore the need to understand how it works. Thus the curriculum currently under use as a national minimum standard document for the study of mass communication is not only flawed but technically restrictive, in its adoption of a particular perspective which has been found to be not too helpful in our national development strategy. The other argument as to whether communication studies should be domiciled in the arts or social sciences is neither here nor there. Where it is domiciled is not important. What is important is whether the course content is adequate or not for the training of a Nigerian student who will practice essentially in Nigeria and who will also be capable of holding his own in the international media world. As we have noted earlier, no single text can satisfactorily address all communication issues. If indeed such a text were to exist then it would either be too fat or it would be very superficial on all the issues to be useful to the student. While we note the deficiencies of the present National Universities Commission curriculum in its labeling and course content we wish to point out that certain key areas of the communication arts have tragically been either left out or given scant attention. Communication is a cultural product and must therefore be made to reflect the culture of its living environment. Many of us me so hung up, so it seems, to the mass communication concept that it would almost tantamount to an academic treason to accept other names. Some of us have been products of various communication schools abroad with differing names for their programmes and we accepted them only to come home and deride these labels.

We in Uyo run a communication arts programme with a larger latitude than what the NUC has presented as minimum standards. So it is sometimes sad for us to hear some of our colleagues with the benefit of an academic transcript from sister institutions and knowledge of their curriculum and their persons pretend they do not know what communication arts is. Communication arts is a broad training perspective which encompasses mass communication, and is easily superior in the quality of its content to the basic mass communication curriculum provided by the National Universities Commission.

We are not dogmatic about these issues nor do we bother about the way each institution wishes to see its programme. But we are concerned that as misguided as the messianic enthusiasm by some of us to spread the message of mass communication to other institutions may be we are sometimes caught in the web of grizzly prejudice and unmerited superiority exhibited by some of our colleagues. We are trying in our gentle way to make the point that communication is not about the printed and electronic media alone. There is so much to it that an ill-advised policy and undomesticated training programme for our army of young enthusiastic students could lead to miscommunication, mass in-communication or a total failure of communication pedagogy.

Given such an ambiguous situation and the fact that existing texts are deficient-in some of our cherished areas, we decided to embark on this project which is the product you have in your hands right now. Those who have read our previous departmental text edited” by the late Professor Emmanuel Akpan would remember that the book attempted to address some of the areas of communication arts which were then considered critical. In that work, Communication Arts: Principles, Applications, Practices, we laid the foundation for the present work. Introduction to Print Media was the follow-up to this project in 2002. This is the third part of that project.

Thus in thirteen chapters, some co-authored while others are written by single contributors, we have attempted to address some of the basic communication issues from the gong to electronics, and explained the concept of communication arts, discussed methods of research and data analysis, communication laws in Nigeria, focused on rhetoric and the psycholinguistic foundations of communication.

We have also treated. basic photography and photojournalism, film and documentary techniques, examined the Nigerian home video industry, communication and society, communicative symbolism in the African context as well as advertising principles and practice. There are of course shared commonalities with some of the existing texts. Our contributors are drawn from fine and industrial arts, theatre arts and the communication arts. We assure you that this work is rich indeed and you will find it a useful addition to your library.

Des Wilson
December 2006



Chapter 1. Basic African Communication Systems by Desmond Wilson.

Chapter 2. Communication Arts: Some Basic Facts by Desmond Wilson and Ita Ekanem.

Chapter 3. Psycholinguistic Foundations of Communication by Desmond Wilson and Mfon Itek.

Chapter 4. Basic Photography and Photojournalism by Essien H. Ikpe and Etim Anim.

Chapter 5. Communication and Society by Nkereuwem Udoakah.

Chapter 6. Communicative Symbolism in the African Context by Best Ochigbo.

Chapter 7. Research Methods/Data Analysis by Grace U. Nwagbara.

Chapter 8. Film and Documentary Techniques by Nsikan-Abasi S. Nkana.

Chapter 9. The Nigerian Home Video Industry by Uwemedimo Atakpo.

Chapter 10. Advertising: Principles and Practice by Idorenyin Akpan.

Chapter 11. Research Proposal Writing and Defence by Nkereuwem Udoakah.

Chapter 12. Mass Media Laws in Nigeria by Mbuk Mboho and Etim Anim.

Chapter 13. Introduction to Rhetoric by Peter Esuh.

This book can also be purchased in Chapters. Click here to pick the choice Chapters.

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