Sr. Jecinter Antoinette Okoth, FSSA
As radio and television producers drawn from the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) region commence 10-week training to be equipped with techniques on media-based peace building, participants have been asked to play their role in resolving conflict issues from grassroots.
Speaking during opening of the online training Tuesday, June 8, the AMECEA Secretary General Fr. Anthony Makunde said, “In addressing issues of conflict and peace building, it is strategic to begin from the grassroots. Go to Small Christian Communities (SCC’s), to the families and to the basic communities to engage with the people affected.”
He compared the grassroots approach to the decision AMECEA bishops took over 40 years ago as a model of being a local Church in the region hence underscoring that the methodology is effective in addressing conflicts and building peace in communities.
The Secretary General encouraged the producers and journalist who were in the online training the need for collaboration and work together in creatively telling stories that enhance peace building within AMECEA where hostility, war and socio-political conflicts continue to characterize the region.
Fr Makunde further reminded the participants of three main roles and pillars of media which are to inform, educate and entertain, and added that fulfilling these will help the Catholic media to have greater impact in the region.”
“We have all the tools to give information to communities’ right from SCC’s, families and parishes,” he said and added, “You have the duty as Catholic journalists and media professionals to discern what to share at a particular time, in a particular environment.”
“Remember, in addressing issues of peace building and conflict resolution, it all depends on how you as professionals use the information and how you tell the stories,” Fr. Makunde narrated.
He further highlighted that as educators, the media have a big role to play in local communities on handling conflicts thus “focus on nurturing a community that will always strive to develop values that promote harmony and peaceful coexistence regardless of ethnic or political differences.”
Fr. Makunde encouraged participants to be attentive and acquire more skills and knowledge during the training and be ready to make a difference “in your respective countries as far as peace building and conflict resolution is concerned.”
Thanking the Br. Elias Mokua SJ the director of Loyola Communication Media Centre (LCMC) and AMECEA Communications Department for the timely workshop in a bid to fulfil the bishops’ resolution, the Secretary General disclosed that the bishops in the region had resolved in their last Plenary Assembly that “the Church needs to take an active role both locally and internationally in addressing issues of conflict and peace building.”
The organizers anticipate to train more than 150 Catholic Media Producers in the AMECEA region during the 10-week workshop.