, 28 July, 2020 / 11:21 PM
Kuwala FM, the Catholic Radio established last week in Malawi’s Archdiocese of Blantyre, is expected to serve as an instrument of evangelization with a particular “focus on the pastoral challenges” when it will go on air, the Communication Coordinator of the Archdiocese has told ACI Africa in an interview.
“It is a radio that is for evangelization. There are other Catholic radios in other dioceses and Radio Maria at the national level but we want this one to focus on the pastoral challenges that are specifically to the Archdiocese of Blantyre,” Fr. Frank Mwinganyama told ACI Africa Tuesday, July 28.
Archbishop Thomas Luke Msusa of Blantyre Archdiocese announced the “birth of Kuwala FM, a radio station for the Archdiocese of Blantyre” last week, July 23, indicating that the Catholic Radio will cover the Archdiocese of Blantyre and its environs and that it “will go on air in the next eight months.”
“Through this radio, we shall tell the story of Christ; we shall tell the story of Mother Mary, Queen of All Hearts and we shall weave and tell our own story as the Archdiocese of Blantyre,” Archbishop Msusa said referencing Kuwala FM, whose name originates from the local Chichewa language to mean light.
Established as the fifth Catholic radio station in the landlocked southern Africa nation, Kuwala FM will operate under the slogan, “Light of the world.”
During the July 28 interview with ACI Africa, the Communication Coordinator of Blantyre Archdiocese highlighted some of the pastoral challenges.
“Many Pentecostal Churches are springing up in the city and in villages” making it difficult for the Church’s evangelization mission in the Archdiocese of Blantyre, Fr. Frank said, adding that other religious denominations have devised strategies to bring their message closer to their followers.
“When you move around Blantyre, you can clearly see that the Muslims are good in numbers and their style of Islamization is quite aggressive,” the Malawian Cleric said, and continued in reference to the Muslim leadership in the city of Blantyre, “They have put Billboards in the city and they have their radio station.”
In the remote parts of Blantyre Archdiocese, Fr. Frank said, “we still have some traditional practices that need to be challenged with the Gospel because of lack of access to information.”
“For the youth in the city, they have too much information which they fail to sieve what is good for their development from what is not good while those in the villages have access to very little information and that affects how they make decisions,” the Priest who doubles as the Youth Chaplain in Blantyre Archdiocese.
He added, “Other churches have their own radios targeting their own youth, so we need to address our youth.”
Kuwala FM, which will broadcast in English and the local Chichewa, will have specific programs to address the needs of the faithful in the Archdiocese, Fr. Frank reiterated.
He explained, “We will focus on catechesis programs designed for modern understanding with questions and answers. We will also air news and programs addressing social and pastoral challenges common to our local Church.”
“We will have catechesis programs targeting different age groups, members of different social status. We will also have a program that addresses the urban population, those in rural areas and programs for the elite of the society,” the Cleric of the Archdiocese of Blantyre said.
Other programs will have the youth as the target audience, with a particular focus “on integral formation, which combines both spiritual and human formation,” the Malawian Cleric told ACI Africa.
Asked about the sustainability of the radio, Fr. Frank said that Kuwala FM will “take commercials which we think will generate funding for radio.”
“We chose to go commercial because those radios which didn’t do so and opted to depend on donations from Christians became unsustainable,” Fr. Frank said referencing the type of license obtained from the government.
The leadership of Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (MACRA) announced, July 17, that the application for a “Commercial Sound Content Licence” had been successful.
“The licence will only become effective upon publication in the Government Gazette and this shall be done once you pay the initial licence fees amounting to US$1,500,” the Director General of MACRA, Henry Shamu stated in the July 17 letter addressed to the Managing Director, Kuwala Radio.
“We will have a marketing team which will also help identify sponsored programs for sustainability purposes," Fr. Frank told ACI Africa.
“At the initial stage, the Archdiocese will fund most of the things, and some external funding from SIGNIS and the like for initial equipment,” the member of the Clergy of Blantyre said.
In the July 23 letter addressed to the people of God in the Archdiocese of Blantyre, Archbishop Msusa made a “strong appeal for support.”
“I ask you to make generous contributions,” the Archbishop said July 23 and added, “I ask for individual contributions towards the purchase of the following: furniture, computers and air conditioners for our studio.”
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa