“The Catholic Church is still a credible institution”
The Church is still a credible institution and therefore should effectively play its part in the Communications media field, because the Church in itself is communication. This was said by one of the participants to the joint SECAM and SIGNIS-Africa seminar on Catholic Media and Peace building in Africa. Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) and SIGNIS-AFRICA, which is a continental association of Catholic Communicators, held a joint Seminar whose aim was to exchange information and plan together how the Catholic media can be more pro-active in facilitating peace building in Africa. The workshop had a lot of practical exercises to try and determine the pre-requisite to peace building and reconciliation. Exercises that showed some of the causes of conflicts were also carried out. It was realised that sometimes conflicts are created because people do not listen to what is said and therefore cannot perceive correctly what is being said.
Below is a picture illustrating a misunderstood instruction:
The instruction was hold your brother/sister’s hand and put it down as many times as you can in 15 seconds. The responds to this instruction was a tug of war no one wanted his/her hand to be put down. They understood, it was competition but it was not. They just supposed to exchange putting down each other’s hand.
The participants also grappled with what comes first; Mercy, Peace, Truth or Justice, reconciliation
Br. Alfonce Kugwa (Zimbabwe) explains why Justice has to come first.
During the Seminar the Communicators were taught how to use the Social Communications tools at their disposal to encourage peace building in the different societies they serve.
After all the deliberations and discussions the participants noted with concern that peace in Africa should be considered a priority issue so as to enable the continent to develop and the role of the Church cannot be overemphasized. See back page for their final Communiqué
SIGNIS AFRICA MEETING
After the combined Seminar SIGNIS-Africa went on to have their General meeting. The meeting discussed the Statutes and the Membership of SIGNIS Africa. The delegates were divided into language groups and were given copies of the Draft Statutes to go and look at them, discuss, correct or add the missing important items. The meeting came out with to versions of the Statues in French and in English. A team was put in place to harmonise the two and pass the statues on to the SIGNIS Africa Assembly of Delegates who will look at the Statues again and polish them before the World Congress in October 2009.
Election of new SIGNIS-AFRICA Delegates: The participants took the opportunity to elect new office bearers of SIGNIS-Africa, who will take Office in October 2009. The results of the elections came out as follows:
President: Dr. Lino Pungi from Democratic Repbulic of Congo
Vice-President: Fr. Ralph Madu from Nigeria
Fr. Paul Samasumo Zambia
Fr. Chris Townsend South Africa
Mrs. Marie-Louise Senegal
Fr. Luca Madagascar