02 December 2020

Africa: Young Catholic media professionals begin online course

Forty young African media professionals, this week started a three-week online training programme organised by SIGNIS Africa under the banner: Citizen journalists of hope


Paul Samasumo – Vatican City


The forty young persons, most of whom already work for Catholic dioceses, or Catholic media houses, are divided into two groups of twenty each according to either French or English speakers. Ten of some of Africa’ seasoned Catholic media practitioners will take turns to share their knowledge and skills with the young people. Emphasis will focus on the use of smartphones and other digital tools to help the participants craft better African stories of hope.  Organisers hope that even with basic digital devices, the end product can be authentic and polished.

Taking away the power of manipulation from big players

Speaking at the opening ceremony, this week, Nigeria’s Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of Oyo Diocese, who is the Bishop-President of the Pan-African Episcopal Committee for Social Communications (CEPACS) praised SIGNIS Africa for the initiative. Stories told by Africans themselves, said the Bishop Badejo, provide a more sympathetic understanding of Africa’s difficult situations.

“While the entire world can see our woes and tragedies from afar and easily report them as it wishes, it is up to us and in our own interest to tell “the participant’s story,” the alternative narrative, the complementary account that takes the power of manipulation away from the big players and determines in a way what the true story is. We do not create the news; we simply bring it closer to the truth of what occurred,” he said.

A new generation of agents of hope in the Church of Africa

Bishop Badejo further challenged SIGNIS Africa to replicate the training and extend it to other young agents of evangelisation in Africa such as seminaries, novices in religious congregations and others.

“I also hope that workshops such as this can be replicated for other youth in Africa who have other pastoral or ecclesiastical vocations and assignments in a manner that is tailored to their purpose, namely priests, religious, seminarians and catechists. That way I think that a new generation of competent agents of hope might emerge in the Church in Africa to animate a new continental information order,” Bishop Badejo said.

The inspiration came from Pope Francis

For his part, President of SIGNIS Africa, Professor Fr. Walter Ihejirika of Nigeria said the SIGNIS Africa executive board were inspired to organise the training by the pastoral teaching of Pope Francis.

“The inspiration for this programme derives from the pastoral teachings of Pope Francis. Based on his homilies and speeches, Pope Francis has often been called the Pope of Mercy. We see him also as the Pope of Hope because the theme of hope resonates through his pastoral teaching. This workshop tries to concretise this important aspect of the papal teaching,” Father Ihejirika said.

Young people pledge to document stores of hope in Africa

SIGNIS World President, Mrs Helen Osman, of the United States and several other dignitaries presented good-will messages. Two young participants, speaking on behalf of their colleagues, pledged to faithfully follow the training and when done to use their skills to benefit their communities by documenting African stories of hope.

SIGNIS is a Catholic lay ecclesial movement for professionals in the communication media, including press, radio, television, cinema, video, media education, internet, and new technology. It is a non-profit organisation with representation in over 100 countries.