Information and Communication Technology(ICT), finds its bedrock in the African culture of spirituality popularly known as juju, a Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Capetown has suggested.
In his speech as plenary keynote speaker at the opening ceremony of the 2nd Biennial Africa Regional Conference of the International Communication Association held at the University of Ghana, Professor Francis Nyamnjdoh, said despite the perception against it, juju shares a connection with IT; the idea of interconnection.
“Not much different from today’s technology,” he said, amidst murmurs and laughter from the audiences.
Juju nicknamed African magic is charm or fetish used in religious practices. It is also usually a spiritual display or use of power, that enables the human do the abnormal, and according to the Professor, “they are part of the potency repertoire from the fact of our incompleteness”.
He drew the audience’s mind to the link between the two phenomena by listing a number features they possess mutually; the ability to appear at places where one cannot be physically present, the need to be activated before use, the tendency to disappoint, when needed most, amongst others.
“With this regard, they (juju) are not much different, from the technologies of self-extension like photos, computer, internet, mass media and social media,” he said.
Guests of Honour and Hosts of the 2nd Biennial Africa Regional Conference of the International Communication Association ( ICA).
Speaking on the theme “African digital cultures: Emerging research, Practices and Innovations,” the University of Capetown Professor said “we stand the chance of contributing to the theorisation of digitisation,” only if Africans would move past the perception of ‘juju’ being satanic and primitive.
Professor Nyamndjoh expressed disapproval over Africans having to learn about Information Technology from other cultures. To him, it was problematic because “a lot of Africa’s development in terms of technological sophistication, was stunted by the ease with which our encounters with the west labeled them [juju] as primitive and satanic or witchcraft”.
Some participants of the conference agreed with the assertions and thought that the Professor’s claims were interesting.
“I also agree that if Africans tap into their beliefs, a lot more can be achieved on the continent with regard to innovation,” one student said.
Professor Francis Nyamnjdoh ended by entreating all present that just as Nigerian film makers have seen this interconnection and portrayed it well in their ‘juju’ laden movies, Africans must embrace their cultural values in order to contribute meaningfully to innovation.