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picture of Yemisi Shylon museum
Jun 23, 2024

The 100-level Mass Communication students at Pan-Atlantic University recently engaged in an object-based learning session led by museum manager Michael Osaeghale. The focus was on traditional forms of communication before colonization.

They explored how ancient societies communicated, acknowledging that while it wasn't as efficient as today's methods, it effectively achieved communication goals. In traditional African societies, designated individuals like the town crier or societal figures used recognizable sounds, signs, or symbols to share information. Examples include idiophones (self-sounding instruments) like gongs and wooden drums. An example in the museum is the Bird of Prophecy, rung during the Ugie oro festival to commemorate the triumphs of Oba Esigie and honor deceased kings.

Symbolography involves symbolic writing or representation, with Nsibidi and Uli as examples. Nsibidi icons date back to 400-1400 CE in the Calabar area, found on various objects. Uli, drawn by the Igbo people, started as decorative designs but evolved into a form of communication expressing social and political sentiments.

Objectifics are messages conveyed through objects significant to society, such as Kola nut bowls like the 'Okwa Orji,' symbolizing love and welcome to visitors.

Mundane Communication involves interactions between the living and the dead through rituals, prayers, and incantations. An example in the museum is the 'Opon Ifa,' a tool for communication between humans and gods, used by the priest of Ifa while reciting verses from 'odu ifa,' a vast oral literature.