Using media to promote interreligious and conflict transformation

CAMECO contributes insights into current academic research on media in the transformation of conflicts at the roundtable on the Central African Republic, held in October 2023, hosted by the Archdiocese of Cologne.

The Round Table on the Central African Republic (CAR), held on 9th October 2023 in Cologne is a regular gathering of faith-based organisations, donors, and civil society from Germany and the CAR to discuss challenges and ways forward. CAMECO Desk Officer Fabíola Ortiz dos Santos, who is also an expert in the field of media development, conflict and peacebuilding, currently finalising her PhD at Duisburg-Essen University [1] , shared academic insights and lessons learnt from her doctoral project [2] at this occasion.

The importance of engaging communities in a ‘multidimensional approach’ was highlighted at the Round Table as key to promoting interreligious dialogue in the Central African Republic (CAR). And media can play a crucial role in this process.

Narratives about peacebuilding, interreligious dialogue and the transformation of conflicts should, however, be conveyed in a way that is inclusive, respectful and solidarity-based.  Some of the lessons learnt from her doctoral project – for which she interviewed Central African journalists and carried out an analysis of radio content – pointed to the need to engage media actors in the overall process of peacebuilding strategies. Journalists and media professionals should be viewed as agents who can channel, mediate, and foster debate in the public sphere.

Interreligious dialogue must be inclusive in its various dimensions – age (intergenerational), ethnic affiliation (inter-ethnic), inter-cultural, and gender sensitive – to embrace the diversity and plurality of views.

Dialogue should not imply that there is a ‘universal absolute’ answer to conflict. Solutions are to be designed by the communities and stakeholders involved according to the cultural, social, and political context.

The use of radio to promote interreligious dialogue was considered a good approach by the roundtable participants. “If the communication does not reach the listeners, the purpose of the message will not be concretized”, reiterated a member of the Central African delegation.

The meeting brought together representatives of donor institutions of the Catholic Church as well as organisations such as Pharos Observatory and INOVARCA (Intervention Non-Violente Active et Rapide), representatives of the Salesians Don Bosco, Bangui-based parish Notre Dame de Fatima and Mobaye parish St Joseph in the south-eastern Diocese of Alindao.

The Central African delegation was represented by Imam Abdoulaye Ouasselegue of the Petevo mosque in Bangui. He coordinates the Islamic Relief in the CAR and is vice president of the country’s Islamic Council. Also present were Pastor Clotaire Rodone Siribi, President of the Alliance of Evangelical Churches in the country; and the former Minister of Defence, Promotion of Women, Agriculture and Rural Development, H.Ex. Marie-Noëlle Koyara.

CAMECO’s Africa desk was represented by the desk officers Fortuna Mambulu Ekutsu and Fabíola Ortiz dos Santos.


Commitment to shaping local projects

The members of the CAR delegation expressed their commitment to building projects that are locally designed to foster a sense of community ownership.

According to the delegation present at the roundtable, the seeds of conflict that destabilised the country still exist. Despite the difficulties, the population has continuously demonstrated resilience.

There is an inner desire to build citizenship in a multicultural society, stated the delegation. They also expressed their commitment to engage in interfaith mediation and community awareness activities in the areas affected by conflict.


[1] PhD fellow at the MEDAS 21 – ‘Global Media Assistance: Applied Research, Improved Practice in the 21 Century’ (Erich Brost Institute for International Journalism, Dortmund) and research associate at the Institute of Communication Science in Duisburg-Essen University, Germany.

[2] "Journalism and Peacebuilding: Challenges and Approaches to International Media Sector Development – a case study of radio projects in Central African Republic" (work in progress). More information here.