Friday, 4 July 2003

Nairobi (Fides Service) – “This is the arrival point of a process started ten years ago and at the same time the point of departure for new evangelisation” says Comboni Father Renato Kizito Sesana, enthusiastic director of Radio Waumini, Kenya’s first Catholic radio which will be inaugurated tomorrow 5 July to coincide with the local celebration of Communications Day. Waumini in Swahili means “Believers”.
“Radio Waumini is a means for evangelisation and for the promotion of the activities of the local Church. It will also be a radio for all Kenyans because it intends to represent diversity in present day Kenya and promote the values of justice, peace, solidarity, tolerance, reconciliation and reciprocal understanding.” The radio has a broadcasting range of 150 km from Nairobi, but it will soon reach Kisumu, Nyeri and Mombasa. The programmes are in English and Swahili.
The process which led to the opening of Radio Wauimi was long, as Father Sesana tells Fides Service: “Other countries in Africa have a long tradition of Catholic media but in Kenya the first Catholic initiatives in this field were taken only 15 years ago: Ukeli Video productions and Catholic reviews Mwananchi, The Seed and New People. Later the archdiocese of Mombasa and New People magazine began producing radio programmes which were then broadcast by non church radio stations” said Father Sesana and he continued: “Well aware of the situation, the Kenyan Bishops first began to consider opening a Catholic Radio about ten years ago. In 1999 Bishop Rotich, then president of the Bishops’ Commission for Social Communications, asked me on behalf of the Conference to take charge of the project for the Radio”.
Father Sesana has years of experience in other media but not Radio and he had to start from the beginning. “I had to prepare plans for the buildings, start construction, look for funds, create a vision of how the Radio would be. Thankfully, as time went on, I was helped in the undertaking by many people. Most of the funds were provided by the Italian Bishops’ Conference and Cuore Amico, an Italian association, and an association of Italian Catholic radios, the Circuito Marconi, ,helped us from the technical point of view”.
Thanks to this assistance, work on the building of Radio Waumini Radio Studios began in March 2001 and finished in September of the same year. “So by the end of 2001 we were ready to broadcast but the government had not yet issued the licence” says Father Sesana. “The licence finally arrived in mid 2002 but then we had to wait for the authorities to assign a frequency. I had the impression that the previous government wanted to make sure we would not go on the air before the 2002 elections. At last in January this year we were given our wave band, we arranged to relay some Vatican Radio programmes and entered the final phase of preparation.” LM (Fides Service 4/7/2003 EM lines 41 Words: 511)