In his statement to mark the 56th World Day of Social Communications, the SIGNIS Africa President challenges Africans to embrace and cherish the continent’s diversities for collective growth and development.
SIGNIS Africa President and Professor of Development Communication and Media Studies at the University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria, Fr. Professor Walter Ihejirika, has reiterated Pope Francis’ Message on listening. Father Walter says the African continent finds excellent inspiration in Pope Francis’ Message for this year’s communications day.
Africa needs to introspect more
“I strongly believe that this aspect of the papal message (on listening) should have special resonance for Africa. Our continent needs to engage more and more in sincere introspection on every facet of our collective life – religious, social, and environmental…It is a remarkable coincidence that this year’s World Communication Day is celebrated in proximity to the celebration of Africa Day on the 25th of May, a day that commemorates the foundation of the Organisation of African Unity, the precursor of the African Union,” said Professor Ihejirika.
Communicators who speak truth to power
“In my communique of last year, I stressed the need for African communicators to tell the African story,” said Professor Ihejirika. He then added, “As communicators, we have the obligation to assist our continent in this important task of self-reflection. In like manner, we must play the role of gadflies stinging our leaders and people to wakefulness to rediscover ourselves. We must be ready to speak truth to power, especially the power in the hands of erring and incompetent leadership. We must help our people to know the rights and responsibilities of good citizens. We need to debunk the religiosity sweeping through many parts of our continent, which creates indolence through the misguided teaching that faith is like a magic wand that wipes away all problems and creates an Eldorado without any human effort,” lamented the Port Harcourt academician.
‘Hear, O Africa’: From diversities to harmony
Professor Ihejirika believes that the diversities found on the African continent are a challenge for Africans to listen to and affirm each other.
“Like Moses of old, we cannot cease shouting, ‘Hear, O Africa!’ Through sincere introspection, Africa will emerge a better and stronger continent. Her diversity will become her strength, and her many languages will meld into a melodious symphony in line with the words of Pope Francis, ‘… in a choir, unity does not require uniformity, monotony, but the plurality and variety of voices, polyphony. At the same time, each voice in the choir sings while listening to the other voices and in relation to the harmony of the whole,’” the SIGNIS President emphasised.