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(Vatican News). President of SIGNIS Africa, Father Walter Ihejirika, says Catholic media should tell the story of Africa in its totality and as a place where hope, faith and resilience reside.
In a message to celebrate the 2021 World Communications Day, on 16 May, Father Professor Walter Ihejirika said African Catholic media practitioners and netizens need to take ownership of the African narrative.
The creative spirit of African youth
“We have to tell the whole story of our continent and not just the single stories which are preferred by outsiders. The Pope invites us to ‘hit the streets’ of our urban and rural communities to discover stories of hope which are like bright candles shining in the darkness. We need to let people know the faith and resilience of our people, especially the youth, whose creative spirit is often smothered by our ‘prodigal leaders’. This is the reason why SIGNIS-Africa is committed to forming a pool of young people who will become our Citizen Journalists of Hope,” said Professor Ihejirika.
Come and See: An invitation for interaction
No one can tell the African story better than one who sees and lives the experience, the SIGNIS Africa President said. He echoed this year’s theme as one that elicits interaction and encounter: “Come and See” (Jn 1:46): Communicating by Encountering People Where and as They Are.
“We draw inspiration from the message of Pope Francis for this year’s celebration,” he said. Further observing that communicative interactions are only helpful when they are based on the truth. That search for the truth can be hampered by laziness, overconfidence in one’s level of knowledge, prejudice, stereotyping and hatred of the other. Every human being is a communicator," he said.
Using social media, we can tell our true story
“We have an obligation to tell the African story. It is our responsibility to invite others to 'Come and See' Africa. In the past, a number of social, economic, political and technological factors have created scenarios where our stories have been told more often from the outside. Today, with the democratisation of the media and the rapid growth of social media, we have every possibility to tell our stories to the outside world,” emphasised Father Ihejirika.
African Catholic media’s recommitment
“As we mark the 2021 World Communications Day, we thank the Good Lord for the gift of human communication. We renew our commitment to being truthful storytellers. We promise to use our talents to open the eyes and minds of our readers, viewers and listeners to the truth about their fellow human beings and their environment. And most importantly, we will work to lead them to see the ultimate truth – the love of God made manifest in Christ Jesus,” said Professor Ihejirika.
Father Walter C. Ihejirika is a Professor of Development Communication and Media Studies at Nigeria’s University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State. He is also the current SIGNIS-Africa President.