Notwithstanding the constraints of Covid-19, it promises to be a book presentation like no other in recent times. Not only is the subject of the book – Prof Ralph Akinfeleye, a titan in that domain, the book editor – Prof Umaru Pate- is also an intellectual referent in his own right in that discipline. The merger of the two and the centrality of the academic discipline of Mass Communication in contemporary knowledge structure would account for the promise of the occasion.
Prof Akinfeleye instantly brings to memory the Department of Mass Communications at the University of Lagos which, with the exception of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka counterpart, produced majority of the media personnel in most newsrooms across Nigeria until the post SAP era. The power of the Department and, by implication, of UNILAG was the totality of the reporters, sub-editors, columnists and editors in the media houses that internalised what scholars such as Prof Sam Oyovbaire might have been referring to when they say that the media in Nigeria has a Lagos view of the world that is shared by even those who are neither Lagosians nor even from the Southwest. If this interpretation is correct, then Oyovbaire’s contention might be no more than a reference to the analytical socialisation of students of Mass Communications at UNILAG by its pioneer big names such as Fred Omu, Alfred Opubor, Frank Ugboaja, Onuorah Nwuneli, Idowu Sobowale and Ralph Akinfeleye, to mention just a few.
The coming of the ‘linguistic turn’; the ‘discursive turn’ ; the ‘textual turn’ and several other ‘turns’ in social analysis in the post Cold War have, cumulatively, reshaped Mass Communications (and almost every other disciplines) nearly beyond recognition. But the story of the academic engagement with the discipline, especially by UNN and UNILAG, would still be the starting point in Nigeria. That is what makes this book and the impending book presentation to be sure to matter across a crisscrossing assemblage of journalists, media owners, communication scholars, politicians and students of hegemony and power.
If the crowd at the Conference of Vice Chancellor’s, Nigerian Universities Function Hall in Abuja on April 9th, 2021 outmatches the space, it would be understandable.