, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 491–499 | Cite as

Using bill boards as medium of communication, projection, and expression of African cultural values: the case of Ghanaian “sign boards”

Open Forum


The function of any sign is to communicate the information written on it. Bill boards are well-established media of communication used to convey a broad range of different kinds of messages. The purpose of this study was to provide a deeper understanding of how bill boards are used to project and express cultural values in Africa. Using content analysis, this study compiled and analyzed written signs (words) on selected storefronts, buses, cars, homes, and businesses in Ghana, West Africa. Relevant conclusions and implications of the findings were drawn from the analysis projecting and expressing African (Ghanaian) cultural heritage and values.


Communication Bill boards Sign boards African cultural values Moral values Gratitude/appreciation Outdoor advertising 


  1. Appiah-Kubi K (1999) The Akan of Ghana, West Africa: a cultural handbook for reference. Cowhide Press, BloomfieldGoogle Scholar
  2. Asante M (1980) Afrocentricity: theory of social change. Amulefi, BuffaloGoogle Scholar
  3. Asimeng M (2006) Understanding society: an introduction to sociology for African students. Woeli Publishing Services, AccraGoogle Scholar
  4. Asimeng-Boahene L (2009) Educational wisdom of African oral literature: African proverbs as vehicles for enhancing critical thinking skills in social studies Education. Int J Pedagog Learn 5(3):59–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Asimeng-Boahene L (2010) Counter-storytelling with African proverbs: a vehicle for teaching social justice and global understanding in urban, US schools. Equity Excell Educ 43(4):434–445CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Assael H (1981) Consumer behavior and marketing action. Kent Publishing Company, BostonGoogle Scholar
  7. Baffoe M (1998) The radio and cell phone revolution in Ghana: an interesting new phenomenon impacting the socio-political scene in Ghana. The Ghanaian News, vol 3(8), August 1998. The Ghanaian News Corporation, TorontoGoogle Scholar
  8. Bar-Tal D, Bar-Zohar Y, Greenberg MS, Hermon M (1977) Reciprocity behavior in the relationship between donor and recipient and between harm-doer and victim. Sociometry 40(3):293–298CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Belgrave FZ et al (2000) The effectiveness of a culture and gender-specific intervention for increasing resiliency among African-American preadolescent females. J Black Psychol 26(2):133–147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Botchway A (2004) Talking about sex and AIDS in Ghanaian homes. Paper presented at international conference on AIDS, July 11–16 2004Google Scholar
  11. Burgoon M, Hunsaker FG, Dawson EJ (1994) Managing communication processes. Sage Publications, Thousand OaksGoogle Scholar
  12. Busia KA (1963) The African world view. In: Dracher J (ed) African Heritage. Crowell-Collier and Macmillan, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  13. Carey JW (1988) Communication as culture: essays on media and society. Routledge, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  14. Celsi RL, Olson JC (1988) The role of involvement in attention and comprehension processes. J Consumer Res 15(2):210–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Chow HPH (1996) The Chinese community leaders’ perceptions of criminal justice system. Can J Criminol 38(4):477–487Google Scholar
  16. Cobbah JAM (1987) African values and the human rights debate: an African perspective. Hum Rights Q 9:309–333 John Hopkings University PressCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Cronin AM (2008) Mobility and market research: outdoor advertising and the commercial ontology of the city. Mobilities 3(1):95–115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Curran J et al (eds) (2005) Mass media and society, 4th edn. Arnold, LondonGoogle Scholar
  19. Denzin NK, Lincoln YS (2000) The discipline and practice of qualitative research. In: Denzin NK, Lincoln YS (eds) Handbook of qualitative research. Thousand Oaks, SageGoogle Scholar
  20. Diop CA (1978) The deep structure of culture: relevance of traditional African culture in contemporary life. J Black Stud 18(1):72–85Google Scholar
  21. Emmons RA, McCullough ME (2003) Counting blessings versus burdens: and a experimental studies of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. J Pers Soc Psychol 84:377–389CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ghana Home Page, Ghanaweb. 29 Oct 2008
  23. Godin S (1999) Permission marketing: turning strangers into friends and friends into customers. Simon and Schuster, New yorkGoogle Scholar
  24. Graham K (1988) Practical reasoning in a Social world: how we act together. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  25. Grant RA, Asimeng-Boahene L (2006) Culturally responsive pedagogy in citizenship education: Using African proverbs as tools for teaching in urban schools. Multicult Perspect 8(4):17–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gudis C (2004) Buyways: billboards, automobiles, and the American landscape. Routledge, New York and LondonGoogle Scholar
  27. Gyekye K (1996) African cultural values: an introduction. Sankofa Publishing Company, AccraGoogle Scholar
  28. Hagan J, Shedd C, Payne MR (2005) Race, ethnicity, and youth perceptions of criminal injustice. Am Sociol Rev 70: 381-407. 29 Oct 2008Google Scholar
  29. Inglehart R, Basanez M, Diez-Medrano J, Halman L, Luijkx R (eds) (2004) Human beliefs and values. A cross-cultural sourcebook based on 1999–2002 value surveys. Siglo Veintiuno, Buenos AiresGoogle Scholar
  30. Lane J et al (1976) Integration of intention and outcome in moral judgment. Mem Cogn 4:1–5MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Maxwell JA (2005) Qualitative research design: an interpretive approach. Thousand Oaks, SageGoogle Scholar
  32. Mbiti JS (1970) African religions and philosophies. Harcourt Heinemann, LondonGoogle Scholar
  33. Morrison DE, Kieran M, Svennevig M, Ventress S (2007) Media and Values. Intimate transgressions in a changing moral and cultural landscape. Intellect Books, BristolGoogle Scholar
  34. Mowen JC, Minor M (1998) Consumer Behavior, 5th edn. Prentice Hall, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  35. Myers LJ (1987) The deep structure of culture. Relevance of traditional African culture in contemporary life. J Black Stud 18(1):72–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Nettleford RM (2003) Caribbean cultural identity: The case of Jamaica. An essay in cultural dynamics. Ian Randle Publishers, KingstonGoogle Scholar
  37. Note O (2007) Imagining the politics of the senses in public spaces: billboards and the construction of visuality in Chennai City. South Asian Pop Cult 5(2):129–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Ogbonmwan S (2008). Reflections on African traditional value systems and the challenges in sustaining and preserving these in the diaspora. Unpublished speech delivered at the Edo Community Cultural Weekend, Vienna, Austria, August, 2008Google Scholar
  39. Olupona JK (ed) (2000) African spirituality: forms, meanings and expressions. The Crossroad Publishing Company, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  40. Onah GI (n.d) The meaning of peace in African traditional religion and culture. Pontifical Urban University, RomeGoogle Scholar
  41. Ottenberg S (ed) (1982) African religious groups and beliefs. Papers in Honor of William R. Bascon. Archana Publications, SadarGoogle Scholar
  42. Pettersson T, Esmer Y (eds) (2008) Changing values, persisting cultures: case studies in value change. Brill, LeidenGoogle Scholar
  43. Roberts SK (1999) In the path of virtue: the African American moral tradition. The Pilgrim Press, ClevelandGoogle Scholar
  44. Sarpong P (1974) Ghana in retrospect: some aspects of Ghanaian culture. Ghana Publishing Corporation, Accra-TemaGoogle Scholar
  45. Shade BJ, Kelly C, Oberg M (1997) Creating culturally-responsive classrooms. American Psychological Association, Washington. Retrieved 15 Nov 2008
  46. Taylor CR, Franke GR, Bang HK (2006) Use and effectiveness of boards: perspectives from selective-perception theory and retail-gravity models. J Advert 35(4):231–244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Tesser A et al (1968) Some determinants of gratitude. J Pers Soc Psychol 9:233–236CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Uchendu VC (1965) The Igbo of Southeastern Nigeria. Rinehart and Winston, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  49. Wehrs DR (2001) African feminist fiction and indigenous values. University Press of Florida, GainesvilleGoogle Scholar
  50. Woodside AG (1990) Outdoor advertising as experiments. J Acad Mark Sci 18(3):229–237Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ManitobaWinnipegCanada
  2. 2.Penn State University-HarrisburgMiddletownUSA

Personalised recommendations