African news agency aims to tell stories from ‘the grassroots’

Nairobi, Kenya, Aug 19, 2019 / 05:45 pm (CNA).- At the launch event for a new African Catholic news agency Saturday, a Kenyan bishop urged journalists to focus their work on the “grassroots” life of the Catholic Church across the continent.

“Very rarely do we hear the great stories from the [Small Christian Communities] nor good things the little men and women who animate these communities do to promote the faith,” Kenyan Bishop Joseph Obanyi said Saturday, Aug. 17 in Nairobi, while hosting the launch of ACI Africa.

“The bishops believe strongly that through ACI Africa, we will be able to hear what the church has to say from the base,” Obanyi who chairs the Commission for Social Communication of the Kenyan bishops’ conference, told more than 400 guests at the launch event.

The newly launched agency is a part of the ACI Group, a service of EWTN News, which also includes Catholic News Agency. The agency was officially launched Aug. 17, and is headquartered in Nairobi. It is led by Fr. Don Bosco Onyalla, a priest of the Diocese of Rumbek, South Sudan.

During the launch event, Sr. Prof. Agnes Lucy Lando, who teaches journalism at Nairobi’s Daystar University, told journalists that they should be attentive to the standards and best practices of their craft.

“Resist from armchair journalism, resist from fake news, report the truth and communicate Christ,” Sr. Lando said.

“I am challenging the Catholic journalists and the ACI Africa team for ethical, objective and truthful reporting, she added.

The CEO of Kenya’s government-run Media Council offered similar encouragement.

“I urge that the media of the Church may pause and make sure that the message they pass across is verified and true so as to assist in passing the message of good will and a message that promotes human life in all its aspects,” David Onwoyo said during remarks at the event.

Fr. Andrew Kaufa, who represented the association of East African bishops’ conferences at the event, called for collaboration among media apostolates in Africa.

“Let us collaborate and as Church communicators we play a positive role,” Kaufa said, praising ACI Africa’s “efforts to promote sharing of Church stories and the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The apostolic nuncio to Kenya and South Sudan urged reflection about Catholic approaches to media.

“Much of the communication today is taken by forces that work against the Church and God himself, especially the Western world is very much taken by agnostic if not atheist doctrines, which try to expel God from the public sphere in normal communication channels,” Archbishop Bert van Megen told attendees.

Mentioning the European Union and “Communist China,” specifically, van Megan added that “of the large number of important nations on this earth…very few of them really live the Christian values; some of them combat Christianity.”

“It is up to us we people who believe in Christ, we people who are sons and daughters of the Virgin Mary to be announcers of the good news, to be communicators, to go out into the world and announce redemption, (the) mercy of God and the love of God in which we find out the true dignity,” he said.

“It is very good that we have institutions like ACI Africa that try to counter the voices of darkness that many times have taken possessions of many of the media,” the nuncio concluded.

“It is in the message of Christ that we find truth; it is in the message of Christ that we find true freedom; it is in the message of Christ that we find a secure road, the way into this life, it is in Christ that we find true happiness.”

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