Image of America in Northern Nigeria Radio-Based Broadcast: A Study of Greetings From America

Image of America in Northern Nigeria Radio-Based Broadcast: A Study of Greetings From America

Muhammad Sani Abdullahi (Progressive Governors Forum, Nigeria)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9312-6.ch011

Abstract

This chapter explores popular representations of America in Northern Nigeria radio broadcast using Greetings From America (a call-in program aimed at encouraging Nigerian citizens to seek admission and further their education in American universities) as case study. The chapter is based on a qualitative content analysis of over 15 editions of the program as well as on semi-structured interviews with the News and Current Affairs Manager of Freedom Radio Kano and other relevant informants. The chapter hinges on the propaganda and representation theories. It illustrates how Greeting From America represents a suitable window into America and a platform where Northern Nigerians living and studying in the United States mostly express positive stereotypes of America. The chapter further argues that the program's contents and reception by Northern Nigerians show all the complexity and ambivalence of U.S.'s image in Northern Nigeria. In effect, the impressions of people interviewed in this study coupled with insights drawn from relevant literary sources are sometimes conflicting with the dominantly negative image of the U.S. in Northern Nigeria's popular imagination.
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Introduction

The Western World has, in several instances, been giving northern Nigeria a special media attention. Indeed, there is a long-time media relationship between the United State of America and the region. For example, in January 1979, the Hausa Service was created in Voice of America (VOA), which is American government public broadcast. The Hausa Service program reaches over 20 million listeners in a week (VOA, 2019).And northern Nigeria, a region with the most dominant Hausa speakers, has produced a plethora of journalists who worked in the United State. Currently, private radio stations in Northern Nigeria do broadcast a number of U.S. sponsored programs one of which is called “Greetings from America”. The program “Greetings from America” is a talk show in which Nigerian students residing and studying in United State of America are interviewed about their study experience.

Greetings from America took its name from “Greetings from the U.S”, a comedy album by The Bob and Tom Show, which only targeted the members of the U.S. military serving overseas in October 2008. Unlike the later, the former is a talk-show program that targets Nigerian audiences. For several reasons, the America government sponsored “Greetings from America” program on private radio stations. One of such reasons has been to draw Nigerian audiences’ attention to the benefits of studying in American universities.

The program is presentedin English language on 9 different radio stations in Northern Nigeria. These stations include Freedom Radio (Kano, Kaduna and Jigawa), Gotel Yola, Wazobia FM, Abuja, RimaRadio Sokoto, Globe FM Bauchi, Peace FM Jos, Progress FM Gombe, Grace FM Lokoja and Confluence FM. The program uses indigenous (Nigerian) journalists as presenters and producers, with the aim of giving a local color to the program. The ultimate aim of the program is to encourage Nigerian born students to apply and study in American universities. In the program, Nigerians having studied in American universities are made to speak about their academic experiences in American universities as well as their experiences in the American society.

“Greeting from America” exemplifies America-oriented programs which both represents a subtle window into America and a platform where Nigerian born citizens express their perceptions of American national and foreign policies which affects the life of individuals. It is a suitable case study for exploring foreign media representation of the U.S., a research agenda which has remarkably been under-explored – if not overlooked – by Nigerian researchers. In effect, only few local researchers have focused on non-American media representation in relation to Northern Nigeria. Most research works have rather mainly focused on how American broadcast media reports African societal issues which include politics, development, and economy among others.

Due to a number of cultural and religious issues (notably religious fanaticism and fundamentalism), a number of Northern Nigerian communities have exhibited hostility to Western education and culture (particularly Americanism). It is thus interesting to study northern Nigeria media’ representation of the U.S. given the fact that the media is most often a reflection of the society in which it operates (Idowu, 1999). It is also interesting to view the potential of a U.S. sponsored program such as Greetings from America, in reversing anti-Americanism or in spreading America’s soft power in Northern Nigeria.

It is significant to ask why and how radio program with content for promotion of American educational system and values is aired in the North. It is also interesting to state that mode of transmission of the program involves Nigerian journalists working with Nigerian based broadcasting services whose role in shaping public opinion in the North towards positive perception of USA program in Nigeria, is clear. In view of the abovementioned research interests, the present study aims at (i) examining the genesis, rationale behind broadcasting, and structure of, Greetings from America and (ii) showing how popular perception of America is portrayed in northern Nigeria.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Popular Imagery: Refers to perception of people in Northern Nigeria towards United States and other Western powers that affects how they behave whenever they come into contact with one another.

Conservatism: Refers to a traditionally inclined behavior of people in Northern Nigeria when it comes to religious, political, and social values.

Americanism: Something done in the way and manners of the people living in United States of America, especially their speech, behavioral, and cultural disposition.

Representation: Means how educational society of United States represents the entire country in Northern Nigeria via radio program.

Stereotypes: Shows how mass media promotes certain way of viewing a political, economic, and social phenomenon in the society.

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