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Most Western-driven theories do not have a place in Black communicative experience, especially in Africa. Many scholars interested in articulating and interrogating Black communication scholarship are therefore at the crossroads of either having to use Western-driven theory to explain a Black communication dynamic, or have to use hypothetical rules to achieve their objectives, since they cannot find compelling Black communication theories to use as reference. Colonization and the African slave trade brought with it assimilationist tendencies that have dealt a serious blow on the cognition of most Blacks on the continent and abroad. As a result, their interpersonal as well as in-group dialogic communication had witnessed dramatic shifts.

Black/Africana Communication Theory assembles skilled communicologists who propose uniquely Black-driven theories that stand the test of time. Throughout the volume’s fifteen chapters theories including but not limited to Afrocentricity, Afro-Cultural Mulatto, Venerative Speech Theory, Africana Symbolic Contextualism Theory, HaramBuntu-Government-Diaspora Communications Theory, Consciencist Communication Theory and Racial Democracy Effect Theory are introduced and discussed.



Chapter 1. Introduction

De-Westernization of communication theory is the ultimate aim of this edited volume. This is in part because Min-Sun Kim cites Stephen LittleJohn admitting that “communication theory in the United States is a Eurocentric enterprise. That is, communication theory has a strong Western bias” (Min-Sun, Non-Western Perspectives on Human Communication: Implication for Theory and Practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2002, p. 1). We intend to “correct” this bias through the panoply of Afrocentric-driven theories in this collection.
Kehbuma Langmia

Afrocentric Communication Theories


Chapter 2. The Classical African Concept of Maat and Human Communication

I arrive at this task of writing a chapter for Kehbuma Langmia’s project completely dumbfounded by the turn of events in the history of both African and American communication and the nature and level of discourse about what passes for news, for instance, and what is fake news. There is a crisis in the field of communication but it is brought on by a moral crisis deeply rooted in much of the Western world’s devotion to an ideology of domination (Schiller, Communication and Cultural Domination. New York: Taylor and Francis, 1975). I am convinced that the communication crisis in the West, begun in the United States with an imposition of cultural power, will continue to have serious implications for the African world. The reverberations will be at several levels such as ontological, axiological, ethical, and existential in the field of communication. What will be necessary is a return or a re-memory of the nature of African communication within the context of tradition, community, and values. This is why I am proposing a Maatic theory of communication grounded in the ancient classical African idea of ethics (Karenga, Maat: The Moral Ideal in Ancient Egypt. New York: Routledge, 2003; Asante, The African Pyramids of Knowledge. New York: Universal Write, 2016).
Molefi Kete Asante

Chapter 3. Cognitive Hiatus and the White Validation Syndrome: An Afrocentric Analysis

This chapter proposes the concept of “Cognitive Hiatus” to account for discursive and behavioral contradictions among Africans who seem and claim to be conscious of the need for Africans to protect themselves from the ill effects of white racism and white supremacy. These Africans are identified as having the fourth stage of consciousness, the Interest Concern stage identified by Molefi Asante in his typology of states of consciousness. This fourth stage precedes Afrocentric Consciousness. However, often times, these Africans fail to reach the last and final stage because they suffer from a White Validation Syndrome. This chapter thus describes and analyzes this phenomenon, but also makes recommendations to move beyond it via deliberate and systematic mental and cultural relocation, that is, Afrocentricity.
Ama Mazama

Africana Communication Theories


Chapter 4. The Igbo Communication Style: Conceptualizing Ethnic Communication Theory

The aim of this theoretical chapter is to build a communication theory from an African perspective. This chapter uses the Igbo communication styles to conceptualize ethnic communication theory, which describes the communication dynamics among the second-generation individuals in the diaspora. Specifically, it analyzes how the second-generation Igbo (SGI) young adults in the United States employ Igbo communication styles and tactics. Articulating their ancestral communication styles enable these SGI to gain insight into their imaginary ancestral home, as they face some challenges in their new host land. They also use Igbo communication styles for code switching, engaging in conversations with their co-ethnic members as well as interacting with their family members in their ancestral home. Ethnic communication theory is necessary because of the growing number of second-generation children in the diaspora in general. The theory assumptions and propositions are articulated in the chapter.
Uchenna Onuzulike

Chapter 5. Kuelekea Nadharia Ujamaa Mawasiliano: Toward a Familyhood Communication Theory

Using a qualitative explanatory case study approach, this chapter develops a communication theory of Ujamaa (i.e., the African notion of “extended family” or “familyhood”) based on the communicative theoretical postulates and praxes of the philosophy. While previous ideological or philosophical studies on Ujamaa can be said to include a communicative theoretical approach in a broader sense vis-à-vis both the analytical framework and the public policies deriving from the ideology, they do not, however, provide a technique for a systematic theoretical investigation of Ujamaa-type communication. Thus, as the first scholarly work to proffer a theoretical approach that can be used to systematically investigate Ujamaa-type communication, the chapter entails discussions of the origins of Ujamaa discourse, details of the postulates of the theory, the assumptions of the theory, examples of how Ujamaa-type communication has been employed, summary and conclusion, and limitations of the theory. Employing Ujamaa in Kanga (a colorful cloth), Ujamaa in Tanzanian Hip-Hop music, and Ujamaa in the African American Kwanzaa celebration as examples of communicative vehicles, it is demonstrated in the chapter that Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere’s political ideology or philosophy of Ujamaa is manifested in written literature, oral narratives, and clothing such as the kanga. One might say that Nyerere integrated an idealistic communication framework to the very real and problematic situation of Tanzania in order to pose the question of “what ought to be?” rather than the realist viewpoint of “what is?” and then applied his findings to develop practical improvements. This type of reasoning was clearly the basis for Nyerere’s profound belief in and advancement of Africancentric philosophies in order to repair the foundation of Tanzania’s political, social and economic structures. The ideals of socialism, nationalism, and Pan-Africanism were therefore emphasized and ingrained in policies and discourse in order to unify the Tanzanian people.
Abdul Karim Bangura

Chapter 6. Afro-Cultural Mulatto Communication Theory

The impact of Western educational system, structure, content and style has immensely affected Black people ontologically and, to a painful extent, their epistemological world view. As a result, Africa has continuously been under-classed by the Western forces of darkness. Almost everything about the continent is categorized and schooled in the minds of both Africans and non-Africans as sub-standard and consequently, is in urgent need of help, repair and intervention from the West! This deliberate brainwashing and blatant distortion of a people’s history with arrogant impunity has rendered most Africans and Blacks today to become cultural mulattos because they are not only bombarded by shimmering Western materialism but buffeted from right to left by the West. Western forces on the continent are there in order to underrate and, in some cases, disregard our languages and culture because Africa, as they claim had no history (Curtin, General History of Africa I: Methodology and African Prehistory, 1, 54–71, 1981; Mazrui, The Africans: A Triple Heritage. Washington, DC: Little Brown & Company, 1986; Fuglestad, History in Africa, 19, 309–326, 1992; Charbonneau, Modern & Contemporary France, 16, 279–295, 2008; Nengwekhulu, Journal of Public Administration, 44, 341–363, 2009). To them, the only history Africa had was the history of colonization. This complete insult on a people’s origins has emasculated Africans of their dignity, and humanity, thereby de-Africanizing them of their culture and communication. They have become socio-cultural and communicative mulattoes on the continent and abroad. Right now, the refrain is “us” working with “them” to please them in order to survive. This should not be conflated with us vs them kind of tug of war battle to see the winner in the battle field rather it is the “usness” and “themness” (Langmia and Mpande, Social Media: Pedagogy and Practice. Lanham, MD: Rowman Littlefield, 2013) mentality ingrained in the minds of Africans that has made them become blind imitators of the West since they must crave to belong in order to be recognized. This imitation is what constitutes superficialities and artificialities in communication with one another using the colonizer’s language. But since nature and nurture are by themselves genetically ingrained in humans, Africans tend to still use their local languages in given settings for a desired effect, but increasingly, the volcanic neocolonial forces on the continent have created a situation of mélange or hybridity that could compound meaning exchange in the very communicative process. It is this process that I term the Afro-Cultural Mulatto Theory of Communication henceforth abbreviated as AMTC.
Kehbuma Langmia

Chapter 7. Venerative Speech Theory and African Communalism: A Geo-Cultural Perspective

Language and speech are relationship, context, and culture based. Venerative speech code theory, illuminates a communication system where the speaker uses language, words, terms, or descriptions toward the other, that not only serves to identify or draw attention, but also symbolizes the worth, dignity, and esteem associated with speaker’s evaluation of the addressee and relationship. Using a geo-cultural perspective of African communalism, it posits that the way people communicate is a marker of their psycho-social environment. It extends speech codes theory from a grand theory to a grounded theory. It elaborates on how communication functions in time and place, and how it underpins the priorities and values of a cultural group. Venerative speech codes theory focuses on how African communalism informs relationships, interaction, and speech.
Bala A. Musa

Chapter 8. Africana Symbolic Contextualism Theory

John S. Mbiti, a renowned African theologian, once described Africans as notoriously religious (Mbiti, African Religions & Philosophy. Nairobi: East African Educational Publishers, 1969/2011). The modern expression of their religiosity is found in the two main Christian denominations; the Roman Catholic and the various Protestant denominations as well as remnants of African traditional religions that sometimes find their way into mainstream Christianity. It is against this general background that our discussion in the Black African communication chapter, with a focus on the Africans’ religious perspective, will be anchored. The knowledge system of Christians in the Eastern and Southern regions of Africa forms the context of our study. This chapter analyzes how the religious worldview influences communication patterns and systems at the interpersonal and group communication levels.
Faith Nguru, Agnes Lucy Lando

Chapter 9. The HaramBuntu-Government-Diaspora Relationship Management Theory

The brain circulation phenomenon addresses the two-way dynamic migration patterns of Africa’s Diaspora publics, particularly from and to their host and home countries. In exchange for the various capital that the Diaspora bring to their African home countries, many of these Diaspora members seek to integrate within the socio-economic and political tapestries of their home countries. However, the relationship between some African governments and their Diaspora publics is challenged, as a result of perceived distrust from both parties and infrastructural limitations that results in missed opportunities for a nation’s development. This chapter introduces the HaramBuntu-Government-Diaspora Communications Theory (HGDCT) to support African governments’ communicative efforts in managing relationships with their Diaspora publics to motivate them to invest in their home countries. Guided by a modification of the original three-stage relationship management framework, the HGDCT is grounded in African collectivistic values, coined in an original term, HaramBuntu, which stems from Kenya’s “Harambee” and South Africa’s “Ubuntu.” The theory departs from a prescriptive, two-way dialogic, symmetrical “best” practice Western, Excellent model of public relations. Instead, it prioritizes African cultural values as the bedrock of relationship-building and incorporates insight from each party to provide data-driven, meaningful solutions in nation-building.
Stella-Monica N. Mpande

Chapter 10. Dynamism: N’digbo and Communication in Post-modernism

This chapter explores Igbo communication as an aspect of Black communication. It is recognition that Black communication is varied and not unitary. It is also recognition that theorizing Igbo communication as an aspect of African communication is recognition of the dynamism of such communication. It is a recognition that such communication is not static but one that is indeed enduring and impacts communication of N’digbo (Igbo people). The chapter locates the source of Igbo theory of communication as traditional religion (Odinani), a religion that defined the way of live for N’digbo in a community where it was impossible to exist as a non-religious person because life itself was religion and thus the theory of communication is inevitably an outcome of the religion of the people. The chapter identifies key principles of Igbo communication and uses autoethnographic method to bring to life examples of this communication in different contexts that include conflict, bride price ceremony, family life, and sport.
Chuka Onwumechili

Chapter 11. Consciencist Communication Theory: Expanding the Epistemology on Nkrumahism

This chapter develops a full-fledged Consciencist Communication Theory, thereby expanding the epistemology on Nkrumahism: that is, a revolutionary and Pan-Africanist ideology deeply and firmly entrenched in African culture and history. According to its originator, Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah, Consciencism is “a philosophical statement … born out of a crisis of the African conscience confronted with the three strands of present African society … the African experience of the Islamic and Euro-Christian presence as well as the experience of the traditional African society, and, by gestation, (to be employed) for the harmonious growth and development of that society.” The chapter discusses the origins of Consciencist discourse, details of the postulates of the theory, the assumptions of the theory, examples of the various domains in which Consciencist-type communication has been employed, summary and conclusion, and limitations of the theory. While the ideological or philosophical studies on Consciencism can be said to include a communicative theoretical approach in a broader sense vis-à-vis both the analytical framework and the public policies deriving from the ideology, they do not, however, provide a technique for a systematic theoretical investigation of Consciencist-type communication. Thus, this chapter is the first scholarly work to proffer a theoretical approach that can be used to systematically investigate Consciencist-type communication.
Abdul Karim Bangura

African American Communication Theories


Chapter 12. Afrocentricity of the Whole: Bringing Women and LGBTQIA Voices in from the Theoretical Margins

This chapter explores the marginalization of Black female voices and Black LGBTQIA voices within the Africana Studies discipline. Exploring prominent scholars and theory within the discipline, this chapter examines the implications of a cisgender heteronormative male-centered discipline on the future of research. The writers appeal to future scholars and argue that there must be inclusivity in the voice and perspective within Africana Studies for the continued development and growth of the discipline.
Natalie Hopkinson, Taryn K. Myers

Chapter 13. New Frames: A Pastiche of Theoretical Approaches to Examine African American and Diasporic Communication

African American and Blacks across the African Diaspora have a rich history of communication strategies. Scholars sometimes face challenges in attempts to examine African American and African Diasporic communication through the lens of existing theoretical foundations. Some of the approaches used to examine communication phenomenon have included Afrocentricity, critical race theory, critical cultural studies, or social cognitive theory as application to communication processes across the African Diaspora. In this chapter, I examine a synthesis of existing theoretical approaches that could chart a path to gain a better understanding of communication strategies for African Americans and across the African Diaspora. I borrow from the French term pastiche to examine how the use of existing theoretical work can create an expansive palette for addressing communication issues. The theoretical approaches listed are used because they are grounded in different disciplines such as legal studies, African American studies, communication, psychology, and cultural studies, but are interdisciplinary in nature and often used across disciplines during scholarly inquiry. My argument is based on—the pastiche—the blending of scholarly work, which offers the opportunity and possibility to analyze communication messages that occur in a multiplicity of settings with an array of cultural influences.
Gracie Lawson-Borders

Latin America & Caribbean Communication Theories

Chapter 14. Creolized Media Theory: An Examination of Local Cable Television in Jamaica as Hybrid Upstarts

Creolized media theory examines local Jamaican cable channels as forms of creolized media that burgeoned from the dialectics of a plural society marked by colonialism, post-colonialism, and globalization. In doing so, creolized media theory offers an opportunity to assess Caribbean media from the point of view of a concept that “has always been the most indicative product of Caribbean interculturation” (Voicu, Procedia: Social and Behavior Sciences, 149, 997–1002, 2014, p. 999). Creolized media theory posits two main arguments, first, that local cable channels embody a de-territorialization of the traditional broadcast media landscape, over time shifting from the margins of the broadcast media ecosystem closer to the center, and second, in doing so, created a new source of creative empowerment. This creolization process, the author argues, occurred along a continuum, similar to Braithwaite’s (1971) conceptualization of how Caribbean societies were creolized. At the beginning of the continuum is what this researcher is referring to as the neophytic stage, or the very nascent beginnings of creolized media. At the other end is the advanced stage, or more defined phase of the process. This discussion is the first to apply the idea of creolization to an investigation of media in the Caribbean and is also the first to focus on any local Caribbean cable channel as contributing to the politics of media and culture in the region.
Nickesia S. Gordon

Chapter 15. Caribbean Communication: Social Mediation Through the Caribbean ICT Virtual Community (CIVIC)

New technologies, represented by information and communication technologies (ICTs), are changing the communication pattern taking place over the Internet throughout the Caribbean region. These ICTs have increased the way individuals connect and create new ways of direct virtual participation and communication. Virtual communities enabled by computer-mediated communication are an example of the type of technologies that enable interpersonal online communication. This chapter examines the Caribbean ICT Virtual Community known as “CIVIC” utilizing netnography as the method to study the cultural behavior of members of the collaborative virtual environment fostered by this online community.
Roger Caruth

Chapter 16. Color Privileges, Humor, and Dialogues: Theorizing How People of African Descent in Brazil Communicatively Manage Stigmatization and Racial Discrimination

The purpose of this chapter is to introduce a theoretical framework aimed at explaining how an overt and systemic culture of racism impacts the communication style of marginalized groups. Specifically, this chapter uses the Racial Democracy Effect Theory to explain how racial stigmatization and the false notion of racial harmony, inhibits Brazilians of African descent, keeping them in a dialogical state of marginalization. To explore the applicability of the Racial Democracy Effect Theory, a survey was conducted with 24 people of African descent in Brazil. The study aimed at exploring (1) the communicative techniques people of African descent preferred when interacting with others when any racial teasing occurred; (2) if the type of reaction was contingent upon the membership of the offender; (3) if the level of aggression was stronger if the offender shared the same phenotype; and (4) if there was any relationship between skin color and the techniques chosen. The data showed that members of groups that have been traditionally marginalized prefer non-assertive techniques. The data also revealed that the level of aggressiveness was higher towards people of the same phenotype versus people of different phenotypes.
Juliana Maria (da Silva) Trammel


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