Graffiti as a Source of Social Communication: Case of Matatus Plying Nairobi CBD-Rongai Route

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Daystar University School of Communication


The purpose of the study was to analyze the role of graffiti in social communication focusing on matatus operating along the Nairobi Central Business District (CBD) - Rongai route. Specifically, the study sought to: determine the different typologies of graffiti used on matatus, determine the use of graffiti as a social communication tool, determine the effectiveness of graffiti in social communication and analyze the perceptions of the public on the use of graffiti on matatus as a social communication tool. The study was anchored on lexical pragmatics theory and critical discourse analysis. The study used the case study research design. The target respondents comprised of graffiti artists, matatu operators and public in Nairobi CBD. The respondents comprised of 68 members of the public, 68 matatu operators and 10 graffiti artistes. Members of the public and matatu operators were sampled using the random sampling method. The graffiti artistes were sampled using snowball sampling methods which involves the use of referrals to reach out to respondents. Data from the public and the matatu operators was collected using structured questionnaires while data from the graffiti artists was collected through in-depth interviews. The study used both quantitative and qualitative data analysis methods. Quantitative data was analyzed using SPSS. This was used to analyze the closed ended questions in the questionnaires. The findings from quantitative analysis were presented using figures and tables. Qualitative data analysis was used to analyze the data collected using interview methods and the data collected using open ended questions. In this study, thematic analysis involved categorization of various themes and interpreting them in line with the emerging themes. Thematic analysis was also being used to analyze photographs whereby various themes drawn from different graffiti were interpreted. Based on the analysis, it was found out that matatu graffiti has steadily become more popular along the Rongai-CBD route. The study identified different typologies of graffiti ranging from entertainment, political, religious, inspirational, and promotional graffiti. However, entertainment graffiti were the most common. On the perceptions of graffiti, the study identified that there were varied perceptions on graffiti, with some having positive perceptions, others negative perceptions and others mixed perceptions. On the effectiveness of graffiti on social communication, a section of the respondents agreed that graffiti on matatus is an effective social communication tool as it is easily accessible to large audience. Another section of the respondents reported that graffiti is not an effective social communication tool as the messages communicated are not educational and that the art is not easy to understand. Those with mixed perceptions reported that the effectiveness of graffiti depended on how it is used. If well used, graffiti can be an effective communication tool and if not well used, it cannot be used for social communication. Based on these findings, the study recommends the need for the matatu owners and graffiti artists to consider other themes on societal issues. The study also recommends a need for the public to be educated and provided with information on matatu graffiti to make them embrace the art and acknowledge its effectiveness in social communication. There is also a need for graffiti art shows and events to be organized to allow for interaction between graffiti artists and Nairobi residents for the artists to explain to the people its effectiveness in social communication. Further, it is recommended that the government be in the forefront in promoting matatu graffiti since it is a key source of income and livelihood to the graffiti artists.


MASTER OF ARTS in Communication


Graffiti, Social Communication, Matatus Plying Nairobi, CBD-Rongai Route


Wangui.C.M(2022).Graffiti as a Source of Social Communication: Case of Matatus Plying Nairobi CBD-Rongai Route:Daystar University School of Communication(Thesis)