Catholic Association for Communication: SIGNIS Africa Congress and Assembly of Delegates convened in Kigali, Rwanda, from July 11 to 15
SIGNIS Africa (www.SIGNIS.net) Congress and Assembly of Delegates convened in Kigali, Rwanda, July 11-15.
We, the members of SIGNIS Africa gathered as Catholic communication professionals in Africa, with gratitude to God, deliberated on the theme: “Communication, Synodality and the Church in Africa”. This theme flowed from the ongoing synodal journey of the universal Church announced by the Holy Father, Pope Francis. The process is rooted in the path of communion, active participation and collaboration of all Christ’s faithful in the mission of saving souls and achieving eternal salvation. The Assembly focused on defining workable ways to encourage unity in the faith journey on the African continent through various means of communication. The event brought together participants from our various African countries.
Grateful with gratitude the presence of His Eminence Cardinal Antoine Kambanda, Archbishop of Kigali; Bishop Filippe Rukamba of the Diocese of Butare, President of the Episcopal Conference of Rwanda; Bishop Edouard Sinayobye of the Diocese of Cyangugu, President of the Rwandan Episcopal Commission for Communication; Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of the Diocese of Oyo, Nigeria, President of the Pan-African Episcopal Committee for
Communications (CEPACS) and the Hon. Jean Marie Vianney Gatabazi, Minister of Local Administration, Rwanda.
Enjoying the presence of Msgr. January Yameogo of the Dicastery for Communication, Vatican City; Fr. Dr. Paul Samasumo, Vice President, SIGNIS World and staff member of the Dicastery for Communication, Vatican City; Rev. Sr Prof. Dominic Dipio of Makerere University, Uganda, and Rev. Bernardo Suate, staff member of the Dicastery for Communication, Vatican City and former director of SIGNIS Services Rome.
Moved through testimonies shared with us and our visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center, we pledge to always use the media to promote a culture of peace.
Inspired by the rapid infrastructural and technological and social development of Rwanda, a few years after the tragic events of the genocide, we believe that a new and better Africa is possible. As short as our stay was, we gained useful knowledge and learned profound lessons about the Rwandan nation.
Inform all SIGNIS Africa members that the hitherto interim SIGNIS-Africa constitution signed in 2019 at the SIGNIS Africa Congress in Addis Ababa has been ratified and adopted as a substantive legal document to guide and regulate the operations of the association .
Encouraged upon ratification, elections based on the new constitution were held for the new SIGNIS Africa Board of Directors. The following officials were duly elected by secret ballot for the next four-year term:
Rev. Prof, Walter Ihejirika, Nigeria – President
Rev. Alberto Buque, Mozambique – Vice President
Rev. Dieu-Donne Kofi Davor, Ghana – Secretary General/Treasurer Rev. Webb Amouzou, Ivory Coast – Member (RECOWA region)
Sr. Adelaide Ndilu, Kenya – Member (AMECEA region)
Rev. Fidele Mutambazi, Rwanda – Member (ACEAC region)
Br. Alfonce Kugwa, Zimbabwe – Member (IMBISA region)
Synod on Synodality
In his opening address, Bishop Badejo said the ongoing Synod on Synodality of the Universal Church is a communications project that challenges media practitioners in Africa to design practical ways to give voice to those who are marginalized by some of our church structures and in society in general. This calls us to a new way of being Church.
Delegates were further enlightened on the need to see the media as a truly viable evangelistic tool, the effective use of which will help the Church fulfill its missionary mandate (Mt 28:18-20; Acts 1:8).
During the various sessions and presentations, participants were enlightened to the troubling realities of division on the African continent which has resulted in catastrophic consequences negatively affecting the welfare of God’s people.
At the end of our Congress and Assembly of Delegates, we, members of SIGNIS Africa, raise these concerns and recommendations:
We make the following recommendations. To know,
To African Catholic Communicators
- In the spirit of synodality, all Catholic communication structures in Africa must make it a priority to introspect themselves and bring out a more inclusive and participatory Church. It also means involving more women and young people in our governance structures.
- All Catholic communicators on the continent must constantly be aware that listening is essential. Walking together in synodality implies a deeper listening to all people without prejudice.
- We recommend that all National Episcopal Conferences adopt the Nigerian and Burkinabé model of commemorating World Communications Day for an entire week instead of celebrating a single day. The week-long commemoration spread across parishes can be used for media education and various outreach activities in Church communications.
- Social communication is the servant of the Church’s evangelizing mission. As Catholic communicators in Africa, we renew our availability as communicators at parish, diocesan, national, regional and continental levels to advance the mission of the Church. Our call is for the wider church to embrace and integrate social communications into all pastoral work.
- Synodality consists of respectfully extending the hand to the other. We recommend that our Catholic communicators in Africa learn more than one international language and cultivate the spirit of networking. This will help build bridges, encourage sharing of media projects, and ensure effective engagement in our service to the Church and to humanity.
To African society at large
- We continue to watch with anguish and utter disapproval the unprovoked, relentless and senseless attacks, kidnappings and murders against defenseless citizens and, in particular, Christians in many African countries such as Nigeria and Burkina Faso – in fact, the entire Sahel region. We urge African governments to restore common sense and security.
- In building the new Africa we want, African governments, groups and individuals should strive to transcend the artificial land borders to which the legacies of colonialism have subjected the continent. Now is the time to pursue all the lofty ideals of connectivity that the African Union has often talked about but rarely implemented.
- As Africans, we are proud of our identity, celebrate and promote our values and value our dignity as a people of noble heritage. It is a mantra worth promoting in our schools, churches and communities.
SIGNIS Africa members are grateful to God for the success of this Congress. Thank you to all the communicators who made the sacrifices to attend this important gathering. Our hosts, Rwanda, exceeded our expectations, and we thank the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Rwanda for their support and encouragement. We thank all the groups and individuals who contributed to the success of this Congress. We remain indebted to the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith, which over the years has partnered and accompanied our communication projects by providing much needed funding.
Finally, we wish the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) every success at their next Assembly in Accra, Ghana. We pray for God’s fatherly blessings and guidance on all his people in Africa and around the world. We entrust all our communication efforts to the intercession of Our Lady of Kibeho.
Delivered today, July 15, 2022 and Signed by:
Rev. Teacher. Walter C. Ihejirika President, SIGNIS Africa
Distributed by APO Group for SIGNIS Africa.