, 26 September, 2019 / 10:18 PM
Celebrated as a key form of free expression globally and ranked by UNESCO as Africa’s most influential information outlet, radio stations in Africa have an impact on audiences and a network of Catholic radios is particularly contributing to peace on the continent, a media practitioner overseeing some 23 radio stations across Africa has testified to ACI Africa.
"In terms of peace, the radios have dedicated a generous amount of programs to promoting peace across the continent," the Coordinator of Radio Maria Africa, Paolo Taffuri told ACI Africa Wednesday, referring to deliberate efforts made to use the network of Catholic radios in Africa as an instrument of peace.
“During elections (2018) in DR Congo, Radio Maria in Kinshasa ... dedicated a lot of programs to educate people to maintain peace and experience that moment with a lot of peace and positive attitude,” the Coordinator of Radio Maria Africa, Paolo Taffuri told ACI Africa in an exclusive interview Wednesday.
“We have been recognized by some local authorities informally for the contribution the radio gave,” he added, underscoring the significant role the network of Catholic radios he coordinates plays on the African continent.
In Rwanda where reconciliation efforts are still ongoing 25 years after the genocide that saw an estimated one million people die and others displaced, Radio Maria Rwanda, which “is the second in terms of listenership after the national radio” contributes in maintaining “peace not just in peace keeping but in peacebuilding.”
“After the 1994 genocide, tensions within the population have been long-lasting,” Mr. Taffuri said and continued, “Radio Maria contributes to the peace process in terms of reconciling, educating people to make steps towards reconciling with friends, families and other people.”
The unique role that the radio plays in the society is what left Radio Maria in Burundi operating uninterrupted, whereas other stations were closed down or suspended during the political unrest that rocked the country from 2015 to 2018, the Tanzania-based Radio Maria Africa Coordinator confirmed.
“In Burundi when there was turbulence years ago, some radios were suspended and others closed and even attacked by gangs, but for Radio Maria, it was still broadcasting,” Mr. Taffuri said.
On the future of the radio stations, Mr. Taffuri who has served as the Coordinator for seven years, says the organization is keen on expanding the radio network.
“Our mission is to make sure that every person in a country with Radio Maria has the possibility to listen to a radio talking about Jesus and God,” he said.
“Our dream is to cover the whole of Africa and the world,” he added.
He disclosed that the family of Radio Maria will soon be opening a station in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, the third in the country.
He confirmed about plans to establish more radio stations in Nigeria, Zimbabwe and South Sudan.
Radio Maria Africa is the African section of the World Family of Radio Maria, an organization running 74 Marian stations in the world, 23 of which are in Africa.
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