Many South Sudanese communities in regions unreached by mass media continue to use traditional forms of communication such as drum beating, horn blowing, smoke signals, songs, dances, ululations and runners. These forms of communication have been practiced and mastered over years of civil war in South Sudan and have proved to be effective, becoming the preferred choice of communication for many. The costs and mistrust attached to technology, coupled up with limitations in the digital and print communication, have given rise to the use of traditional communication even in areas where traditional mass media are available.
The displaced people and those fleeing conflict in South Sudan use non-verbal communication such as horn blowing and smoke signals to warn others of imminent dangers. As South Sudan currently has 64 different ethnic groups, there is no cross-cutting communication tool used across the country but the methods mentioned above are similarly used depending on context and time of the year. For instance, methods used during the rainy season are different from the ones used in the dry season. The communication forms also vary depending on gender. Women are known to use ululation and shouting whereas men mostly employ horn blowing and feet thumping.
According to a 2017 survey by the Reach Initiative conducted in partnership with Internews, word-of-mouth (relayed via mobile phones and opinion leaders) maintained a popular trend. The survey indicates that among those who primarily received information in person or on the phone, friends and relatives were the most trusted source of information. Throughout the years of civil war, communication infrastructures were either destroyed and/or shutdown which gave rise to the use of known forms of communication to send warning messages and signals.
South Sudanese cultures and languages have traditionally been enriched by dances and songs. In the capital, Juba, the South Sudan Theatre Organisation has continued to stage performances with songs and dances that illuminate the narratives of the war. The rise in popularity of stage performances has gained traction to the other mass media forms. Generally, the huge cost of mass media and the lack of interactivity using non-verbal cues have given rise to traditional forms of communication in communities where huge values is placed on communications cues.