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In Malawi, Radio Provides Most of the Coverage of Pope's Funeral

Many Africans who could not watch the funeral in person stayed glued to their television sets and radios. State television broadcast the funeral live in countries such as Nigeria, south Africa, Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In the capital of the Republic of Congo, Brazzaville, a giant television screen was set up for those without one at home. Officials in Madagascar say people gathered in town halls where the funeral was being shown on television powered by generators.

In Malawi, state television broadcast the funeral and showed coverage of the pope’s visit to the country in 1989, when Malawi was under the leadership of long-time dictator Hastings Kamuzu Banda. Funeral proceedings were also aired by a Catholic broadcaster – Radio Maria – in the commercial capital, Blantyre. Father Joseph kimu notes that most Malawians do not have a television, but that the private radio station reaches about 85 percent of the country. Father Kimu offered simultaneous translation of the Pope’s funeral in one of the country’s local languages, Chechewa.

As the host of a call-in show, he solicited listeners’ comments and answered questions about the pope, and his burial. He told VOA reporter William Eagle that Malawians relate to the pope and to the message he gave to the public during his trip 16 years ago: “Don’t be afraid.”