The Deputy Speaker of Parliament Thomas Tayebwa has urged Ugandans to use the freedom of speech available in the country to develop themselves rather than focusing on destroying others through hate speech.
Tayebwa who was the Guest of Honour during the liturgical service to celebrate the 57th World Social Communications Day hosted by Kampala Archdiocese on Sunday, May 14, he also urged the church to preach peace and reconciliation and speak against bigotry, intolerance, and xenophobic media messages.
Whereas President Museveni’s administration has granted Ugandans freedom of speech, the Deputy Speaker says government leaders have become victims of their own making since most people especially on digital channels are using the same freedom to destroy them including abusing the Head of State.
“It is in Uganda where people can go on a platform and abuse the President that he is useless and you will find a whole Head of State trying to explain how he’s not useless. In other countries, he can show you how he’s not useless but here, he spends a whole day trying to explain to people who are abusing him,” Tayebwa said.
The deputy speaker, who was in the company of King Ceasor University Chancellor and Vietnam’s Consul to Uganda, H.E King Ceasor Mulenga T.G and a number of MPs, said modern-day communication must remain a tool for creating understanding, promoting peace, and bringing people together rather than a source of division and conflict.
“We can use communication to inform, fight poverty and build families. We can use it to get people into groups that can help communities but we can also use it to destroy. The choice is ours. As communicators, we have the power to influence opinions, shape, perceptions, and change behaviours. Therefore we must use this power to integrate, care, ensuring that our messages are rooted in trust, empathy, and respect for others,” he said. He also asked all communicators to use social communication tools to build bridges, foster understanding and promote peace.
“Let us prove to be the communicators who seek the truth, respect others and work towards the common good. Together, we can create a world where communication is a force for unity and progress rather than a force of destruction,” he added.
World Day of Social Communications is a call to all media professionals and those who use media to use responsible practices and to contribute to the construction of a more just and fraternal world.
His Grace, Rt. Rev. Paul Ssemogerere the Archbishop of Kampala Diocese who animated the mass called upon Catholics and all other communicators to develop a cordial way of communication which can influence hardened hearts to open.
He empathized in the message that “friendly conversations can open a breach even in the most hardened of hearts,” and at the same time, those who read or listen to communicators who disseminate information through cordial communication, are led to participate in the “joys, fears, hopes and suffering of the women and men of our time.”
According to the prelate, contemporary society is marked by “polarizations and contrasts,” a situation in which he laments “not even the ecclesial community is immune.”
Expounding on the theme of the 57th World Social Communication Day: “Speaking with the heart: The truth in love” as found in the letter of St Paul to (Ephesians 4:15), the archbishop said: “We should not be afraid of proclaiming the truth, even if it is at times uncomfortable, but of doing so without charity, without heart,” since “We are all called to seek and to speak the truth and to do so with charity.”
His Grace Ssemogerere encouraged all to listen and speak with open hearts, and to speak the truth in love, communicating with courage and ‘with heart’. This, he said, is ‘the only way that we encounter each other and help one another to encounter something more, someone, more’, and ‘to be caressed by the mercy of God’.
The chairperson for the Communications Commission at Uganda Episcopal Conference (UEC) Rt. Rev. Joseph Franzelli called for renewed collaboration and cooperation among Catholic media practitioners in Uganda.
Bishop Franzelli urged the communicators to have change of mind and heart to ensure that the information they give may nourish the hearts of the people saying all can only be realized through commitment and collaboration.
He further reiterated the call for a serious commitment from the communicators to be able to do their work orderly in a move to bring understanding among the audience.
With the increase in the number of media houses in the country, Bishop Franzelli pointed out the need for more initiatives to be created, and capacity building among the communicators so as to become effective.
Fr. Philip Odii, the director of communications at the Uganda Catholic Secretariat (UCS) announced that the much-awaited Uganda Catholic Television (UCTV) will be officially launched on 3rd June during the Uganda Martyrs Day celebrations in Naumugongo. The channel, he said will help bolster the Catholic Church’s works.
Archbishop Augustine Kasujja who served as the first African Apostolic Nuncio in various countries also attended the service.