“Notre Dame du Sahel” Radio, a powerful a tool to weave relationships between people of different ethnic backgrounds and faiths.
For many communities in Burkina Faso, radio broadcasts are often the only effective way to proclaim the Gospel. In a country where oral culture is still very strong and most of the people are illiterate, radio is the best means of communicating with the population, especially those who live in rural areas. For this reason, the diocese of Ouahigouya, in the North of Burkina Faso, has decided to relaunch “Notre Dame du Sahel” radio. An effort that the diocese decided to carry out together with the Jesuits of West Africa.
“Notre Dame du Sahel” station was founded on 1 November 1997. Therefore the diocese decided to create a communication tool to announce the Gospel and help the faithful to grow spiritually and morally. “The radio – explains Fr. Victor Ouedrago, head of the Diocesan Centre for Communication – is a powerful means of evangelization and religious education, and transmits Mass for those who do not have the opportunity to attend the Church every day. It teaches the Bible, the social doctrine of the Church, catechesis, prayer to Christians”.
The radio is also a tool to weave relationships between people of different ethnic backgrounds and faiths. “Through the radio a link among the populations are also created and makes them members of the same family regardless of their religious or cultural affiliation. Thanks to it, we have gathered Catholics, Protestants and Muslims in the same group through the listening and dialogue club”.
It is an important role in a region, which in recent years, has been shaken by jihadist terrorism that has damaged good relations among the different communities. “In our region – observes Fr. Victor Ouedrago – Muslims are about 80% of the population, Catholics are only 8%. Creating good relations is a natural fact. We also work for the awakening of citizens’ conscience, the culture of democracy, the promotion and respect of human rights, especially for women and children, often victims of numerous abuses. We seek to create a culture of respect in a country that is trying to give itself a democratic structure after years of dictatorship”.
About 15 people work for “Notre Dame du Sahel” today. They are Muslims, Christians (Catholics and Protestants), Animists. The radio at the moment does not cover the entire diocesan territory, but only half (6 parishes out of 12) and the intention is to extend the signal to the whole territory, reaching and going beyond the border of Mali.
“In perspective – concludes Fr. Victor Ouedrago – in addition to the radio, we want to use other communication channels such as audio-visual, print, internet, social networks, to reach the greatest number of people. We aim at an integrated communication that uses all possible channels of communication for evangelization and awareness campaigns. Our ambition is to create a multimedia centre capable of welcoming people for various formations”.