To mark the 57th International Media Day in the Catholic Church; on Saturday 20 May 2023, at Sainte Famille Hotel, His Eminence Antoine Cardinal Kambanda, the Metropolitan Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Kigali held a joint press conference with the representative of the Rwanda Ministry of Local Government and the Executive Secretary of the Rwanda Media Commission/Council. In his remarks, Cardinal Kambanda emphasised the good news the Church communicates to the world. ‘We Proclaim the Good News from Christ. We proclaim the Good News of God that makes us brothers and sisters. I will never forget that you are my brother/ sister. We proclaim the News of love…’ Cardinal Kambanda informed the Rwanda media present and all Rwandans who followed the media conference that it was inappropriate to misuse the gift of announcing the news we received from God. He emphasised the need for media practitioners to prepare a better world for our future generations through feeding them with true messages.
Cardinal Kambanda reiterated the great importance the Catholic Church attaches to good, well-researched and truthful communication. He said ‘We are now celebrating the 57th day of International day of Communication. This year’s theme is “SPEAKING THE TRUTH FROM THE HEART” (Ephesians 4:15). It is therefore good to open our hearts for one another, listen to one another, be patient with each other, and communicate our words constructively. We can refer to Jesus the true Word of consolation. A good word uplift others (Ephesians 4:29). In day to day journalism, we need to build the society by the words we speak’. Cardinal Kambanda reminded that on every 24 May the church commemorates Saint Francis of Sales, the patron saint of media practitioners, journalists, and we that this year we celebrate for the 100th time Saint Francis of Sales as the patron of journalists. He said that according to Saint Francis of Sales, in journalism, the heart speaks to heart adding that communication is the spreading of heartfelt realities. Cardinal Kambanda reminded that we are what we speak. Therefore, we need to overcome the superficiality. That is when we are able to walk together ‘’synod”. Cardinal Kambanda emphasised the need for an awakening communication and a building communication. He said that speaking the truth from the heart is necessary to build our broken society. He urged everyone to work together for the good of communication “let us protect humanity against hatred and war especially in Rwanda. He reminded that in Rwanda the first “genocidaire” was communication channels. Cardinal Kambanda asked for a focus on a peacebuilding communication. He said that journalists should work as professionals to enlighten the world and we should look up to Jesus the true image and example of communication.
On his part, the representative of the Rwanda Ministry of Local Government (MINALOC), Mr. Peacemaker MBUNGIRAMIHIGO wished all Rwandans a happy Catholic communications day. He shared the role of the Government of Rwanda in Communication. He said that was working to building a constructive communication, unity, love, and humanity through media and communication. He reminded the journalist what hardships Rwanda went a country went through from the colonialism era, which culminated into and the Genocide against the Tutsi in 1994. He noted that Rwandans are rebuilding on the pillar of unity, truth, and home-grown solutions. He pointed out the necessity to think about the bad communication that Rwandans went through, so that we can fight against any kind of discrimination. He quoted article 38 of the Constitution of Rwanda, which gives a great role to communication. He said that Rwandans were proud of positive steps taken in this direction such as growing of new communication agencies and other good initiatives. He reiterated that the policy of communication in Rwanda focuses on the unity of Rwandans. He gave the example where journalists have participated in the National Civic Education programmes known as Itorero where they discuss how they can build a better Rwanda. He concluded by urging journalists to always enlighten the nation through their reporting and to help those who are still in the darkness of the past.
The Executive Secretary of the Rwanda Media Commission/Council compared communication to evangelisation based on truth and professionalism of journalists as according to the ethics. He asked journalists to avoid confusing the truth and peddling lies emphasising that some of these violate the norms of privacy in communication. He said that it is good to teach people how to behave in the diversity of communication channels. He said that in Rwanda, people have access to communication and in this context media practitioners need to work hand in hand to teach the true the culture journalism in the face of technology.
Father Valens NGIRUWONSANGA
And Mr Robert KAMURATSI