AFRICA/IVORY COAST - Media representative of the Bishops' Conference: “Our listeners ask us above all for prayers”

Saturday, 21 October 2023 evangelization   media  

The Catholic media in Côte d'Ivoire has undergone a profound evolution in recent years. A process intertwined with the journey of the entire ecclesial community, as Don Hervé Djezou secrétariat exécutif national des Moyens de communication sociale de Côte d'Ivoire (SENMCS), the office for Social Communications of the Ivorian Episcopal Conference, reports to Agenzia Fides.

How has the Catholic media developed in your country?

The Catholic media in Côte d'Ivoire has developed greatly in recent years. They currently consist of the national Catholic radio station “Voix de l'Evangile”, the national Catholic television station and the church's online press. Radio is the oldest media and was founded 24 years ago; The television station was founded eight years ago. There are also several diocesan radio stations that work with the national Catholic radio station. All of these media work together. There are a total of 15 dioceses in Côte d'Ivoire, and the national radio station covers around ten dioceses with its broadcasts.

Does the program also cover social issues?

Yes, in addition to the purely spiritual programs related to the work of the Church, including the recitation of the Rosary, there are also programs on human development, health, education and agriculture. We try to help our listeners improve their living conditions, both materially and spiritually. It is important to remember that in Côte d'Ivoire, as in other parts of the world, there is still a certain gap between urban and rural areas. Our national radio is heard in Abidjan, the economic capital, and in the other big cities, but also in the countryside because it is the easiest means for everyone. You can work in the fields and listen to the radio at the same time. And we take advantage of it to talk about God. For us, radio is an excellent means of proclaiming the Gospel. We have programs not only in French, but in the different languages of Ivory Coast, precisely to be close to everyone.

Is there a direct line to the listeners? What questions do they ask?

Yes we have “feedback” from our listeners. Above all, they ask us for prayers. Many people call us to pray for their health or material matters. But there are also many who call to ask for spiritual advice from the priests who work at the broadcasters, both at the national and diocesan levels.

Côte d'Ivoire has endured years of civil war that ended in 2011. How can the Catholic media support the peace process?

Our Bishops have made it clear that the media must help people grow spiritually, humanly and morally. And in all our media we constantly talk about peace, how it can be built through good relationships between everyone. I would say we need to promote the joy of being together more. A discourse that includes all religions: Catholics, Evangelicals and Muslims. Our listeners must understand that it is important to witness to God's love by living love and friendship with one another.

A large proportion of the young Africans who emigrate to Europe come from your country. What can you tell us about that?

It is true that the war we have experienced in Côte d'Ivoire has created a situation that has led many young people to cross first the desert and then the Mediterranean in search of a better life. Our bishops have repeatedly reminded young people that they can be happy if they go to school, if they work, if they become aware of their own situation. You may be able to find prosperity in Europe, but you can also be happy in Côte d'Ivoire. I myself studied in Rome, but I was happy when I returned to my home country 20 years ago to work for the Episcopal Conference here. Unfortunately, there are too many young people who venture out into the world and then die in the desert or the Mediterranean.

What could cooperation between Europe and Africa look like from Cote d’Ivoire?

We can help each other by breaking down prejudices. You can learn from Africa. You can learn from our joy. There is material poverty, but we have wealth, human wealth, there are many resources that can help Europe. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 21/10/2023)