Surrogate Language in the African Novel: A Tool for Rural Development

Emmanuel, Ima Usen


The portrayal of drum language as a surrogate language in the African novel recaptures this ancient instrument as still a viable means of communicating the people’s thought and culture through spoken language by means other than speech.  The African novel illustrates the developmental essence of the drum in traditional African societies especially in West Africa as portrayed in some authors’ works like: Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Arrow of God, Camara Laye’s The African Child, Etim Akaduh’s The Ancestor, Ferdenand Oyono’s House Boy, etc. The paper subdivides the drum into its symbolic uses at varying cultural occasions in Ibibio tradition in Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria, as follows: obodom ubong: or the royal drum, obodom usuanetop: for disseminating information and obodom mbre: for entertainment.  The paper submits that language is not only an element of communication; but it is also a powerful means of enhancing grass-roots mobilization; a surrogate language which communicates actual speech by sounding out the stress and tone of syllables as well, has almost the same capability as language.  The drum language therefore remains a viable means for: interpersonal and group communion, cultural transmission, and basically for information dissemination within the rural communities which characterize the folks’ existence, organization and development.  For any scientific change in the transmission of information to be effective within the rural areas, the planners, policy makers and administrators must take into cognizance the drum as a surrogate language for the dissemination of such information.  Also since the drum language is a direct transfer of the stress and tonal features of most African vernaculars, the drum should be modernized and its language patterning encouraged as a field of study along with other contemporary scientific technologies for information propagation and for societal development.

Keywords: obodom ubong, obodom usuanetop, obodom mbre, tonal language, communication, call and answer device.

Full Text: PDF
Download the IISTE publication guideline!

To list your conference here. Please contact the administrator of this platform.

Paper submission email:

ISSN (Paper)2224-5766 ISSN (Online)2225-0484

Please add our address "" into your email contact list.

This journal follows ISO 9001 management standard and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Copyright ©