11 July 2020

Vatican Radio celebrates 70th anniversary of broadcasts to Africa

Prefect of the Dicastery for Communication, Dr Paolo Ruffini will grace Vatican Radio’s English Africa Service webinar on Friday 17 July 2020


English Africa Service – Vatican City


The Holy See’s Prefect of the Dicastery for Communication, Dr Paolo Ruffini; former Vatican Radio Director-General, Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ; Nigerian Bishop, Emmanuel Badejo representing SECAM and others are set to speak in a webinar, marking 70 years of Vatican Radio’s English language broadcasts to Africa.

Storytelling as a tool to manage tribulations

The webinar jointly organised by SIGNIS Africa and the English Africa Service of Vatican Radio will start at 2pm (CET) on 17 July. It will bring together several English-speaking Catholic communicators in Africa.  The theme of the conference is ‘Storytelling as a tool to manage racial and social tribulations in Africa.’ Explaining the webinar and theme, Head of the English Africa Service, Fr. Paul Samasumo said the team felt it was more appropriate to have a sober, reflective celebration given the sombre times we are living in.

English Africa Service collaboration with SIGNIS Africa

“First, SIGNIS is the world Catholic association for communication professionals and has a presence on all continents. SIGNS Africa has of late been working to bring together Catholic Professionals in Africa, and we felt we could partner with them to host the webinar. We could have chosen to talk only about ourselves as a language programme of Vatican Radio. Still, perhaps there is more to be gained in reflecting together on happenings of the world in which we. We are delighted that the Prefect of our dicastery will be with us. And so too, Fr. Lombardi, who needs no introduction,” said Fr. Samasumo.

Catholic media have a duty to chart a pathway for the future

“Why this theme? Together with Professor Fr. Walter Ihejirika, the current President of SIGNIS Africa and others, we realised that as Catholic communicators in Africa, we have the duty of not only reporting social events but also of helping society chart a pathway for a better future. This webinar is our little effort to contribute towards providing a roadmap to this future of Africa and the world in general. We decided to use insights from Pope Francis’ 54th Message for the World Communications Day to stimulate the minds of African Catholic communicators on this important task of building a vibrant continent. We believe that if we communicate the message of the Gospel in a creative and positive manner, we can contribute, in some way, to uplifting Africa from the ashes of adversity, endless armed conflicts, poverty and discriminations to a future of wellbeing and social inclusiveness. The Catholic communicator cannot afford to stand aloof when confronted with these challenges,” said Fr. Samasumo.

Vatican Radio is 89 years old

Vatican Radio was inaugurated by Pope Pius XI on 12 February 1931. The English World Programme was launched six years later in 1937, and English language broadcasts to Africa began in 1950. In 1979 the English Africa Service as we know it today was created out of the English World Programme. The idea according, Sean Patrick Lovett, former Head of the English World Programme, was to respond to the changing trends on the African continent. The English Africa Service began with short-wave evening broadcasts.

Catholic FM radio stations in Africa re-transmit Vatican Radio

Vatican Radio has partnered with many diocesan and religious Catholic Radio Stations, in Africa, that re-transmit the daily Vatican Radio programme on their FM radio stations. A free to download podcast of the daily audio programme is available on the main Vatican News English website every evening. There is also a corresponding section of news about the Church in Africa on the main Vatican News English website. This brings news and views of the African Church to the universal Church.

President of the Nigerian Women Religious to speak

The webinar will also feature presentations from Mother Mary Claude Oguh, Superior General of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Christ. She is the current President of the Nigerian Conference of Women Religious. Also speaking at the webinar, from South Africa will be Ms Sheila Pires, a Radio Veritas media practitioner, and Vatican Radio collaborator.

Those not registered for the webinar are invited to follow the live stream of the webinar on the Vatican Radio English YouTube channel or on the Vatican News English website: 17 June 2020, 2pm -4pm, Rome time.