Exploring the possibility of including African proverbs in HIV and AIDS messages to influence reception by the South African youth

Lubinga, Elizabeth
May 2014
South African Journal of African Languages;2014 Supplement, Vol. 34, p15
Academic Journal
Campaigns about health problems such as smoking, obesity, HIV and AIDS are increasingly facing the challenge of non-receptive target audiences. Researchers are studying what features of health messages could catch and hold the attention of audiences, in turn contributing to their receptiveness towards the content. Metaphoric messages could be particularly effective in preventative health messaging especially where information has been commonly known to audiences over protracted periods of time. Could the inclusion of metaphoric African proverbs in HIV and AIDS messages influence receptivity, when specific audiences such as the youth are targeted? This reasoning led to an exploratory study into the effects of metaphoric African proverbs in HIV and AIDS posters. An experiment was conducted among 160 South African learners. Each learner was presented with posters about various HIV and AIDS related topics. A set of the posters included verbal literal text and straightforward pictures, in another set Tshivenda proverbs/idioms were added, in another metaphoric pictures were used, while a fourth set combined the proverbs/idioms with the metaphoric pictures. Results showed that appreciation of the messages was high. However, most of the learners thought that they did not understand the posters with proverbs/idioms as compared to the other posters, although those who said they had heard the proverb/idiom before, also thought that they understood the message.


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