Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Public Awareness and Sensitization Campaigns on HIV/AIDS in Nigeria

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Public Awareness and Sensitization Campaigns on HIV/AIDS in Nigeria

Article excerpt

Introduction

Human beings usually employ language for the primary goal of communicating their messages and feelings among themselves. The receivers of the messages are often expected to understand the intentions of the senders through the choices of linguistic forms made by the senders. This expectation is a very important facet of communication. Whereas scholars have spent centuries discussing the nature and form of language, very little appears to have been done in analyzing the use of language to be able to bring out the successful or unsuccessful degree of its deployment and the consequences of each outcome. Until Austin (1962), Searle (1969, 1979) and Grice (1975) came to limelight, it would seem that the scrutiny of the pragmatic uses to which language is put in communication contexts was simply without any seat, not to talk of having a back seat in the journey towards unveiling the complex phenomena of language. Halliday (1978, 1980), Back and Harnich (1979), coulthard (1977) and Leech (1983), amongst others, have added their strong voices to the imperative to examine aspects of languages as a tool in use, rather than as mere "formal system" (Leech, 1983:10).

Our study therefore attempts to examine the communicative effectiveness of selected public awareness/sensitization texts on HIV/AIDS in Nigeria. In an empirical application using the staff of Keffi Local Government of Nasarawa State, it is investigated if the messages of awareness and sensitization sent out on issues surrounding the HIV/AIDS pandemic are understood by the workers and the impact fully felt and therefore said to have achieved their objectives. The public awareness and sensitization campaign on HIV/AIDS in Nigeria today can be said to be at its peak. This is coming on the heels of the revelation that Nigeria is one of the countries in Africa in which the disease is said to be pandemic. There is therefore, a concerted effort to stem the tide of the spread of the dreaded disease in order to avert a catastrophic consequence on the countrys' economic, social, political as well as moral bearings. Public awareness and sensitization campaigns are one of the many efforts geared towards minimizing risky behaviours by encouraging moral uprightness especially in sexual matters between both sexes. Our concern in this paper is primarily on the use of language in the campaign by the various campaigners against the scourge using diverse means and media at their disposal. Chief amongst these antiHIV/AIDS campaigners are the Federal Ministry of Information, Federal Ministry of Health as well as Federal & State Government Parastatals like the National Action Committee Against Aids (NACA) which is replicated in both outlook and functions across the 36 states of the nation and F.C.T Abuja. This is in addition to sustained campaigns emanating from specialized and non-specialized non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Education-based Organizations (EBOs), Faith-based organizations (FBOs), Labour-Based Organization, (LBOs), Parents, Teachers and sundry other bodies.

These campaigns are carried and sustained through various ways and means. Chief amongst these are the Television and Radio Jingles, talk-show programmes and drama presentation, Newspaper and Magazine adverts, posters, out door billboards, pamphlets and hand bills. Others include door-to-door campaigns, musical concerts and road-side shows.

The principal target of these campaigns is of course the general public. It is for this reason that selected lexical items considered central to the theme of the campaigns--namely, "abstinence", "safe-sex", "risky-behaviours", "unsafe-blood", "piercing instrument" and "stigmatization" amongst others are singled out from the mass of materials consulted for this research for testing the communicative effectiveness of the campaigns against the spread of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.

The workers of Keffi Local Government of Nasarawa State are used as a basis for generalization. …

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