SIGNIS Africa (www.SIGNIS.net) Congress and Assembly of Delegates Convened in Kigali, Rwanda, from July 11 to 15.
We, the members of SIGNIS Africa gathered as Catholic communication professionals in Africa, with gratitude to God, have deliberated on the theme: « Communication, Synodality and the Church in Africa. » This theme was derived from the ongoing Synodal journey of the universal Church announced by the Holy Father, Pope Francis. The process is rooted along the path of communion, active participation, and the collaboration of all Christ’s faithful in the mission of saving souls and attaining eternal salvation. The Assembly’s focus was on delineating feasible ways of encouraging togetherness in the journey of faith on the African continent through various means of communication. The event had participants in attendance, drawn from our various African countries.
Acknowledging with gratefulness the presence of His Eminence Antoine Cardinal Kambanda, the Archbishop of Kigali; Bishop Filippe Rukamba of Butare Diocese, President of the Episcopal Conference of Rwanda; Bishop Edouard Sinayobye of Cyangugu Diocese, President of the Rwandan Episcopal Commission for Communication; Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of Oyo Diocese, Nigeria, President of the Pan-African Episcopal Committee for Social
Communications (CEPACS), and Hon. Jean Marie Vianney Gatabazi, the Minister for Local Administration, Rwanda.
Appreciating the presence of Msgr. Janvier Yameogo of the Dicastery for Communication, Vatican City; Fr Dr Paul Samasumo, Vice President, SIGNIS World and a staff member at Dicastery for Communication, Vatican City; Rev. Sr. Prof. Dominic Dipio of Makerere University, Uganda, and Rev. Fr. Bernardo Suate, a staff member of the Dicastery for Communication, Vatican City and former SIGNIS Services Rome Director.
Moved by testimonies shared with us and our visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, we pledge to always use media to promote a culture of peace.
Inspired by Rwanda’s rapid infrastructure and technological and social development, a few years after the tragic events of the genocide, we believe that a new and better Africa is possible. Short as our stay was, we acquired helpful insights and learned profound lessons about the Rwandan nation.
Inform all SIGNIS Africa members that the hitherto provisional constitution of SIGNIS-Africa signed in 2019 at the Addis Ababa SIGNIS Africa Congress was ratified and adopted as the substantive legal document to guide and regulate the operations of the association.
Encouraged by the ratification, elections based on the new constitution were conducted for the new SIGNIS Africa board. The following officials were duly elected in a secret ballot for the next term of four years:
Rev. Fr. Prof, Walter Ihejirika, Nigeria – President
Rev. Fr. Alberto Buque, Mozambique –Vice President
Rev. Fr. Dieu-Donne Kofi Davor, Ghana – Secretary General/ Treasurer Rev. Fr. Webb Amouzou, Côte d’Ivoire – Member (RECOWA region)
Sr. Adelaide Ndilu, Kenya – Member (AMECEA region)
Rev. Fr. Fidele Mutambazi, Rwanda – Member (ACEAC region)
Br. Alfonce Kugwa, Zimbabwe – Member (IMBISA region)
Synod on Synodality
In his keynote address, Bishop Badejo stated that the ongoing Synod on Synodality of the universal Church is a communication project that challenges media practitioners in Africa to devise practical ways of giving voice to those marginalised by some of our church structures and in the broader society. This calls us a new way of being Church.
The delegates were further enlightened about the need to see the media as a veritable and viable evangelisation tool, the effective use of which will assist the Church in fulfilling its missionary mandate (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8).
In the various sessions and presentations, participants were enlightened about the troubling realities of divisiveness on the African continent that has resulted in catastrophic consequences adversely affecting the wellbeing 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 advance the following recommendations. Namely,
To African Catholic communicators
- In the spirit of Synodality, all Catholic communication structures in Africa need to make it their priority to introspect and bring about a more inclusive and participatory Church. This also means bringing more women and young people on board our governance structures.
- All Catholic communicators on the continent must constantly be aware that listening is essential. Walking together in synodality entails listening at a deeper level to all people without biases.
- We recommend that all national episcopal conferences adopt the Nigerian and Burkina Faso model of commemorating World Day of Communication for a whole week instead of celebrating one day. The week-long commemoration spread out in parishes can be used for media education and various awareness creation activities in Church communications.
- Social communications is the handmaid of the Church’s evangelising mission. As Catholic communicators in Africa, we renew our availability as communicators at the parish, diocesan, national, regional and continental levels to further the Church’s mission. Our appeal is for the wider Church to embrace and incorporate social communications in all pastoral activities.
- Synodality is about respectfully reaching out to the other. We recommend to our Catholic communicators in Africa to learn more than one international language and cultivate the spirit of networking. This will help build bridges, encourage sharing of media projects, and ensure efficient engagement in our service to the Church and humanity.
To the wider African society
- We continue to observe with angst and total disapproval the unprovoked, incessant and mindless attacks, abductions and killings against defenceless citizens and, in particular, Christians in many African countries such as Nigeria and Burkina Faso -in fact, the entire Sahel region. We strongly urge African governments to bring about sanity and security.
- In building the new Africa we want, African governments, groups, and individuals should strive to transcend the artificial land boundaries to which the legacies of colonialism have subjected the continent. The time is now to pursue all the lofty ideals of connectedness that the African Union has often spoken about but rarely implemented.
- As Africans, we are proud of our identity, celebrate and promote our values, and esteem our dignity as a people of noble heritage. This is a mantra worth promoting in our schools, churches and communities.
The members of SIGNIS Africa are grateful to God for the success of this Congress. Thank you to all communicators who made 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 groups and individuals who have contributed to the success of this Congress. We remain indebted to the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith, who have, over the years, partnered and accompanied our communication projects by providing much-needed funding.
Finally, we wish the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) success in their forthcoming Assembly in Accra, Ghana. We pray for God’s fatherly blessings and guidance upon all his people in Africa and the world. We entrust all our communication efforts to the intercession of Our Lady of Kibeho.
Delivered this day, July 15, 2022 and Signed by:
Rev. Fr. Prof. Walter C. Ihejirika President, SIGNIS Africa
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of SIGNIS Africa.