In Telling COVID-19 Stories, “media should be source of hope, not despair”: Kenyan Bishop

Logo of Kenya-based Ukweli TV

With the global pandemic of COVID-19 receiving unrivalled news media coverage, a Bishop in Kenya has challenged personalities behind “all the channels of communication” to strive to tell stories that give “hope and preparedness” rather than despair.

“I appeal to the mainstream media, the social media and all the channels of communication to go all the way to assist the public as effective vehicles of information and sensitization. The media should be the source of hope and preparedness, and not despair,” Bishop Joseph Obanyi said Wednesday, April 1 in Nairobi.

The Kenyan Bishop who chairs the Commission for Social Communication of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) encouraged media houses to get united in promoting measures that will help contain the virus.

“I am appealing to the media fraternity and their solidarity to do everything possible to stop the spread of the Coronavirus,” the Local Ordinary of Kenya’s Kakamega diocese said.

He was presiding over the launch of Ukweli TV, a Catholic Online media that is expected to stream content through YouTube and Facebook.


Ukweli TV, Bishop Obanyi said, will “join the rest of the media world in reinforcing positive messages and images on the spreading and curbing of the Coronavirus pandemic.” 

In a context where public gatherings were banned, church building closed to worshippers, and where the stay-at-home directive is being encouraged, all undertaken by the government to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the initiative of the Online Catholic TV seems an appropriate response.

Speaking to ACI Africa on the objectives of the TV station, one of the volunteers at Ukweli TV, Sr. Agnes Lucy Lando said, “It is a platform for the Bishops to reach Christians in general, but Catholics in particular in their homes and in their specific locations at the moment.” 

Sr. Lando added in reference to Bishops, “They wanted a platform where they are able to meet the Christians because at the moment there are no masses in the Churches.”

“The Priests and the Bishops have been withdrawn forcefully because of the coronavirus pandemic,” the Professor of Communications and Media Studies at the Kenya-based Daystar University explained and added, “With YouTube and Facebook live streaming, we are able to go beyond geographical boundaries.”

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The member of the congregation of the Sisters of Mary of Kakamega continued, “Since we cannot meet in our Churches and pray, we can pray on Facebook and on YouTube.”

According to the head of the Commission for Social Communications at KCCB, Sr. Adelaide Nduli, Ukweli TV has been launched at an opportune time. 

“Christians are not having the daily worship, the Masses. According to the government directive on social distancing. Christians are not able to gather even for Small Christian Communities and other groups,” Sr. Nduli said.

The nun added, “Catholics are at home. So when they are home, what is the Church giving them now that they cannot come together and gather for worship?”

Ukweli TV, previously known as Ukweli Video Productions was founded by the late Fr. Richard Quinn, a member of the Maryknoll Society.


Sr. Nduli explained to ACI Africa that the video production unit was “handed to the Archdiocese of Nairobi and later put under the management of KCCB together with other stations.”

“We ask Christians to support this initiative and also they should not abandon their prayer life (just) because they cannot attend public gatherings,” Sr. Nduli said.

“Let them join us in the Catholic media to pray together, pray the Rosary and participate in the Mass” concluded Sr. Nduli.

Apart from broadcasting devotional programs like daily Masses, Prayers, and Music, Ukweli TV is expected to be a content-orientated Online media outlet, giving media visibility to issues that the Church seeks to promote, including archived Ukweli Videos.

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.