Four faculty members in the Journalism and Corporate Communication Department of the School of Communication, Creative and Cinematic Arts have presented research papers at The Africa Regional Conference of the International Communication Association (ICA) held at the University of Ghana in Accra last week.

Journalism Lecturer Mr. Silvester Mutua, jointly with Professor Bala Musa of Azusa Pacific University (USA), presented a paper titled Digital Revolution and the Empowerment of Women in the African Movie Industry: Vistas from Nollywood and Riverwood. Their research investigated how the digital revolution has (dis)empowered women in the movie industry, with particular attention to Nigeria’s Nollywood and Kenya’s Riverwood.

Findings show that women in Nigeria and Kenya, just like their male counterparts, have over the last twenty years been empowered in education, finance, and skill development to become key players in the film industry. In Kenya, especially amongst the young generation, women filmmakers are more successful than their male counterparts. This has been attributed to women empowerment which has created more confidence about their abilities.

In disempowerment, sexual exploitation exists that tend to curtail women’s potential in the industry. Also objectivatization of women in Nigerian and Kenyan films tends to reduce their self-worth in society.

The authors recommended the need to remove institutional and cultural barriers, and commitment to development goals that promote equality, egalitarianism, and inclusiveness for women, men, and children. Focus discussion groups (FDGs) and in-depth interviews were used to collect the data.

Mr. Mutua who teaches film and broadcast media also presented a second paper titled Riverwood’s Dramatic Film Story: The Digital Revolution and Production Dynamics as a Potential Model for Kenya’s National Cinema. The study examined the impact of the digital revolution on Riverwood’s production dynamics and the resultant business model that has led to the creation of a successful national film industry.

Findings show that digital technology has been invasive, empowering and enabling due to its affordability, versatility, and adaptability. Two of the study’s recommendations are the need to scale up digital technology uptake in the most marginalized sectors of society and economy due to its multiplier effect.

Also, the government needs to tap into the natural ingenuity of even the most marginalized in society as a strategy to reduce poverty and dependency. Five focus discussion groups and 10 in-depth interviews were conducted in data collection.

Journalism Lecturer Ms. Robi Koki, presented a paper titled An Exploratory Study of Conversations on Sexual Reproductive and Health Rights (SRHRs) of Kenyan Women on Kilimani Mums and Dads Uncensored Facebook page.

The study explored the prevalence and frequency of online interactions on 18 sexual reproductive and heath rights issues on Kilimani Mums and Dads Uncensored Facebook page.

Using qualitative content analysis, the research reviewed 512 posts selected using simple random sampling to categorize and tally frequency, likes, conversations and use of emoji’s about the online debate surrounding the SRHRs topic.

Findings indicated that the Facebook group members engaged in conversations on seven SRHRs issues revolving around three topics of governance and equality, empowerment for women and male-female child issues.

Using the like button, the members approved eight SRHR issues touching on governance, gender and societal relationships – specifically gender roles, accountability of leaders and family relationship issues. Similarly, they used various emoji’s on 14 SRHR issues revolving around romantic relationships, ethnic stereotyping and sexuality.

Titled Taming the Village Shrew? Ideology and Vernacular Mobile Phone Video Drama Series in Kenya, Journalism Lecturer Dr. Joseph Nyanoti’s paper interrogated a Kisii language comedy series known as Nyagetiara that is distributed through the Viusasa subscription app.

Specifically, the study investigated various signifiers and their connotations within the Kisii cultural codes that brought out meanings of patriarchal hegemony in all the episodes. This is so because the Kisii ethnic community strongly believes in patriarchal practices, where women enjoy less privileges compared with men. The study is significant to media content producers, who must be sensitive to discourses surroundings media representation, as well as social-change actors, who would like to know how the media contribute to debates like gender equality among rural communities. 

Findings indicate that the series, “Nyagetiara”, which translates as a “cantankerous woman,” reminiscent of William Shakespeare’s character, Catherine, in the comedy The Taming of the Shrew, is characterized by misogynistic overtones. In most of the episodes, Nyagetiara and other women in the series bring out patriarchal hegemonic nuances of stereotyping, trivialization, marginalization and polarization.

The women in most episodes are cast in their narrow stereotypes as home keepers, nurturers, and sex objects. This is contrasted with men, who sit at home and are served by their wives; young men interchange girlfriends, depending on who is more charming at that time. The data for the research was collected using textual analysis - a qualitative data gathering technique.

Assistant Professor of Journalism Dr. Dorothy Njoroge’s study titled Mapping Citizen Engagement Strategies Used by a County Government in Kenya and the Role of Technology. The research examined communication process or techniques used for public participation in selected counties with a view of chronicling current practices and recommending a framework for workable mechanisms for public participation in the devolved governments.

Findings show that county governments use three main forms of communication: mass media, newspapers and radio for publicizing meetings. Mobile telephony was used in the form of SMS messages but was employed as a filtering system to invite selected people to meetings.

The study’s data was gathered using focus discussion groups (FDGs) in seven counties of Marsabit, Uasin Gichu, Nakuru, Nairobi, Makueni, Bungoma and Mombasa. A total of 89 participants were involved in the discussion groups.