In 2017 the town of Lusambo aired its first program from its brand-new radio station. Radio Bobumue, meaning “unity” in the local dialect, is responsible for bringing news, entertainment and much more, to this important town in conflict-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, and for giving a voice to its citizens ever since.
Radio Bobumue was the dream of Abbé Lambert Kankenza, a priest from the diocese of Kabinda who studied in Rome and came in contact with SIGNIS Services Rome (SSR), to whom he proposed a project to bring a radio station to his hometown after noticing how difficult it was to reach his family while he was away. Lusambo is an area with 28.000 inhabitants that had no internet, no television and where you had to travel for at least 200km before being able to catch the signal from a radio station, motivations that were in line with the projects that SSR develops.
Fr. Kankenza and SSR got to work and after studying and researching all that was needed for the project, they were ready to pitch it to catholic benefactors and the general public. Once the necessary funds were found thanks to the 8×1000 of the Italian Episcopal Conference and Caritas Antoniana, Radio Bobumue was ready to become a reality. SIGNIS Services Rome took care of assembling all the material that would be shipped to the Democratic Republic of Congo and kept its technical expertise always present during the setup of the radio station, that luckily did not meet many obstacles. Nowadays, Radio Bobumue can reach around sixty-thousand listeners in a radius of 200 kilometers, covering at least 10 other towns.
The radio’s programs are wide-ranging and cover the needs of different types of listeners. During the weekend the shows are dedicated to the Church since one of Fr. Kakenza’s main goal was to bring the Gospel to the people. You can hear the voice of the bishop of the diocese, the Pope’s Angelus, receive advice from the local pastors, the interpretation of the “word of the day ” and the catechesis. During these days it is also possible to listen to local music and thus discover great Congolese musicians and feel connected to one’s land. Other programs that air in Radio Bobumue are the pedagogic ones, dedicated to teaching manners, coexistence rules, French, and culture, that also include the “thought of the day” from a famous philosopher, economist or politician and news about the country. Finally, Radio Bobumue gives space for feedback too: the citizens can call and give their point of view on current issues and say what topics they would like to hear more about on the radio.
The role that this radio station has played in Lusambo has focused on bringing peace and coexistence within the local tribes, tolerance between different religions and has opened people’s arms to welcome people from other regions and provinces. Furthermore, it has promoted the rights of women and children, is a tool to fight against analphabetism and it allows university students to discover how working at a radio is, since it is possible to do an internship at the station, but Radio Bobumue is still aiming for more. In the future, Fr. Kakenza would like for the radio to be powered by solar panels and to open a cyber-café, since there are none in the area, counting on the assistance of SIGNIS Services Rome.