Area Handbook for Ivory Coast

By T. D. Roberts; Donald M. Bouton et al. | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 15
INFORMATION AND PROPAGANDA

Communications media of all kinds were limited in 1962 and reached only a small percent of the population. Those reached were on the whole the educated elite, both African and European, who by virtue of their work in government and commerce influenced the lives of the illiterate, rural majority. Since members of the elite spoke French, the media operated almost exclusively in that language.

Little or no "nationalism" is evident in the press and radio of the Ivory Coast, and the profusion of international sources of information makes any distinction between "news" and "propaganda" meaningless. This is due in part to historical circumstances, in part to the political philosophy of the President. To the extent that a press developed at all in French West Africa, it developed in Dakar, capital of the federation of French West Africa (Afrique Occidentale Franqaise-AOF). The best and most popular reading material originating in French West. Africa still comes from Dakar and consists of French-owned newspapers and periodicals. In addition, Paris newspapers and journals are available in Abidjan within 24 hours of publication. A local editor would be a brave man indeed to hope to establish a paper which could satisfy readers as completely as Le Monde or Figaro. The educated African turns to France for an intellectual approach to the news and for world news coverage and to Dakar for detailed accounts of African events of less than worldwide significance. This leaves little scope for the Abidjan press.

Potentially the radio is more important, but in 1962 Radio Abidjan still reached no more than half the population at best. More attention has been devoted to plans for the future than to current programs. Valuable research and documentation have been carried out which should enable the government to develop an outstanding educational radio and television service.


CHANNELS OF COMMUNICATION

The oldest and still the most important means of spreading news and information in French West Africa is word-of-mouth communication. Itinerant traders and other travelers carry news from urban centers to the hinterland, from one small community to another. Important news can be transmitted with considerable speed, by use of runners or drums. Until recently virtually all information, current and historical,

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