The problem of environmental sanitation and man’s attempt to solve it dates back to man’s consciousness of the need for a hygienic and healthy co-existence. Environmental sanitation is as old as the history of man’s existence and effort at finding solution to it equally remains a challenge not only to the governments, regulatory bodies and United Nations but to all and sundry; male and female, young and old.
In Akwa Ibom State, the state government through the Ministry of Environment has been organizing and carrying out cleaning of streets in the state capital and its environments; providing refuse collection points and centres for removal and final disposal of such refuse; directing and controlling the dumping of refuse in its areas of operation; ensuring the clearing of refuse from refuse collection points and centres.
The state government has also been devising and employing approved methods and measures for improved refuse disposal; ensuring the opening and clearing of public drains to allow them flow freely; ensuring the cutting of grasses along public high ways and open public spaces; and removing nuisance from the highway, public open spaces and public parks. Government also controls and removes lunatics, drunks and vagrants from highways and other public places, removes and buries dead bodies left or abandoned on highways and other public places; and removes and disposes abandoned or cannibalized vehicles from the road sides.
In all these, government tries to maintain a symbiotic relationship with its environment for mutual co-existence manifested in a healthy living. Of all the creatures, man is the only biological species that has a significant power to alter the nature of his world, and this power has not only attained a disturbing magnitude, but has changed in character. The most alarming state of man’s assault upon the environment is the contamination of air, land and water with tethal and dangerous materials leading to flood, solid waste problem, oil spillage, erosion, stream siltation, emergence of development refugees, greenhouse effect, ozone layer depletion and global warming.
In microcosm, the Akwa Ibom State Government sets aside only two hours of the last Saturday every month for environmental sanitation exercise for the residents of the state to keep their environment clean. Unfortunately, the attitude of the people has been so naïve and negative towards this exercise and goes about their normal activities even in the urban centres of the state while the rural dwellers vein ignorance of the existence of such exercise on this day.
Therefore, to fully co-opt the rural dwellers into the state environmental sanitation exercise, our traditional modes of communication should be used to create awareness on the significance of this exercise. According to the world celebrated ethno-communicologist and propounder of Traditional Communication Taxonomy, Prof. Des Wilson of the Department of communication Arts, University of Uyo, traditional media or traditional modes of communication are channels of communication mainly used in the rural communities. These modes of communication are employed in predominantly traditional and rural societies as well as societies undergoing transition from traditional to modern urbanized societies.
Traditional media though they are grouped into modes but in general sense include ntakrọk, ñkarika, ékeré, obodom, ñkwoñ, abañ, ifiom, nnọk-enañ, ibịd, kalaba mmọñ-mmọñ, ikwọ,akata, ekpo-ndọk and unek. Others are useñ, ñkañ, mkpatat, ọkọnọ, eyei, ñweweb, ñwa-inuen, uduọk-ukọt, ñkukịt and many others. These are well known methods of communication rooted in the culture, tradition and practices of our society. They constitute a way of life and enjoy an age-long, proven credibility status as trusted sources of information on a wide range of social, economic, cultural and political issues.
They are available and useable by the vast majority of the people in the rural areas. Traditional media are acceptable since they pervade the society. The cheapness of the running operations of these media and channels added to the fact that the people themselves are message producers and receivers at the same time make them embracing in a dynamic rural communication transaction. There is instant feedback within the channel making it possible for the receiver to be in touch with the source through the same channel.
Research shows that the rural audience’s attitude to traditional media is positive and accommodating while modern media are held with suspicion and incredibility. Since traditional media help in grass-root mobilization towards community development and national consciousness as well as sources of cultural, political, health, education and enlightenment programmes, these media should be massively employed to educate, enlighten and mobilize our rural populace for environmental sanitation in general and the monthly environmental sanitation exercise in particular through Paramount Rulers, Clan Heads and Village Heads. We should remember that any Philosophy of African communication must originate from African philosophy which is essentially a critical thinking of the African and his experience of reality.