Cambridge-Africa

Dr Aaron Mushengyezi

Dr Aaron Mushengyezi (Makerere University)

Research title: ‘Technologizing’ Orality: Toward a Hybrid Model of Oral Media for Rural Communities in Central Uganda

Research project: This research will examine emerging hybrid models of secondary orality that have become popular in rural communities in Uganda. For example, the form and role of the matalisi (village crier), the community announcer, or ritual theatre, is increasingly being hybridized by modern technology. Traditionally, these have been mediators in the dissemination of messages on important issues affecting the community.

In the last few years, the nature and function of these forms of orality have greatly changed due to influences and availability of affordable modern technologies. The study hypothesizes that their popularity in rural, poor communities is because they are a cheaper and convenient way to share information and also because messages are contextualised to the community’s needs and setting.

In order to understand this “technologized” orality, which is as yet unexplored, this study will examine some popular forms of it in central Uganda, in order to the elements of orality that characterise their operations and how have they been hybridized by modern technology. The study will thus investigate whether the growing community interest in these media platforms has to do with people’s proximity to the content producer and disseminator, and to the way local communities have traditionally communicated among themselves.

Collaborator: Dr Andrea Grant, Centre of African Studies