Link to Document (PDF)

This mini-thesis examines different socio-cultural norms and communication behaviours of indigenous communities. In spite of existing Information Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructural challenges, the software solutions that have been designed for rural communities have been a major concern. In this thesis, qualitative methodologies were used with deliberate sampling of two village populations to investigate verbal and non verbal behaviour. In order to design appropriate interfaces for Indigenous Knowledge Management systems required to capture, store and retrieve local information, the input from target community members, regardless of their levels of formal literacy education, has to be explored. The fact that in those communities, communication takes place primarily through oral transmission also has to be considered.

Oral communication involves both narrators and listeners who engage in an interactive correspondence including verbal and non verbal communication during storytelling. Many researchers focus on narrators but in this thesis, we will concentrate on listeners’ contributions during interpersonal communications in rural communities. Non verbal communication such as gestures are prevalent in traditional oral African communities and these can offer rich information that can be infused in interface designs for human computer interaction. The aim of this mini-thesis is to identify general socio-cultural norms, communication behaviour such as non-verbal communication structures (gestures) including general verbal utterances of the rural Otjiherero speaking people to provide a basis for subsequent use in the design of local systems. The findings in this thesis were that gestures thought to be universal were specific to the rural members. It was also found that there were specific verbal and non verbal gestures that were observed. This Thesis recommends more research be done in the areas of the correlation between gesture and verbal communication.