Fr Richard Mjigwa of Vatican Radio's KiSwahili Service. Fr Richard Mjigwa of Vatican Radio's KiSwahili Service. 

Vatican Radio: 30 years of the KiSwahili Language Service; Fr Richard Mjigwa receives papal award.

Among some of the Holy See’s Dicastery for Communications staff awarded with papal honours for services to the Church’s communication ministry is Fr Richard Mjigwa.

Angella Rwezaula and Paul Samasumo – Vatican City.

On the feast day of the Archangel Gabriel, patron saint of telecommunications, various members of staff in the Dicastery for Communication have received high honours from Pope Francis for services to the Church’s communications ministry.

Feast of Gabriel, the Archangel

Fr Richard receives his award
Fr Richard receives his award

29 September was a great day for members of the Dicastery for Communication staff as some of them were recognised for excellent and long service at Vatican Radio and within the dicastery, respectively.

Fr Richard Mjigwa, a Tanzanian religious priest of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, received the “Cross of Honour” medal and a certificate for his work at Vatican Radio’s KiSwahili Service. He received the award at a colourful ceremony attended by all the various branches of the Dicastery for Communication. Dr Paolo Ruffini, Prefect of the Dicastery, presented the awards.

Fr Mjigwa becomes the second African at Vatican Radio to receive a papal award. Tanzanian national Mrs Thabita Janeth Mhella, who retired as a journalist of Vatican Radio’s KiSwahili Service, received a papal award just before retiring on 29 September 2016.

Fr Mjigwa has worked for Vatican Radio since 2008.

The “Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice” medal, in Latin, signifies “For Church and Pope.” It is an award established by Pope Leo XIII in 1888. The award is for deserving clergy or lay persons and is for services done for the Church and its head.

KiSwahili Service is now 30 years

On 27 September 1992, the KiSwahili Language Service began daily and regular broadcasts on Vatican Radio to Africa. The language was first heard on Vatican Radio on 6 November 1961. Pope Saint John XXIII inaugurated the Swahili broadcasts to Africa. After that, Swahili was broadcast on Vatican Radio from time to time, by some Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) until 1992 when regular broadcasts began.

Today, administratively, KiSwahili and the English Africa Service at Vatican Radio function as one department.

Vatican Radio's English Africa service staff with Angella Rwezaula of the KiSwahili Service.
Vatican Radio's English Africa service staff with Angella Rwezaula of the KiSwahili Service.

World KiSwahili Day: 7 July 2022

KiSwahili, a Bantu language, has long been recognised as one of the world’s top 10 most spoken languages. In Africa, KiSwahili is the most widely used native language. It is spoken in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Mozambique and Zambia. It is estimated that there are more than 200 million KiSwahili speakers in Africa and the Middle East.

On 7 July 2022, UNESCO and the world celebrated World KiSwahili Language Day, which will now be commemorated annually.

Swahili also known by its native name KiSwahili is a mixture of languages from different countries and takes 40% of its vocabulary from Arabic. It was initially spread by Arab traders along the eastern coast of Africa.

In May 2021, Pope Francis visited Vatican Radio.
In May 2021, Pope Francis visited Vatican Radio.

You can listen to daily programmes from anywhere

KiSwahili and the English Africa daily programmes can be downloaded and listened to at any time of the day or place. A new daily bulletin of the two language services is uploaded every evening.

Dowload the daily podcast from the Vatican news website on the podcast section: 

Furtherstill, the two Vatican Radio’s language services of KiSwahili and English Africa Service are retransmitted on various Catholic FM radios daily.

Over 40 Catholic FM radio stations in Africa and many others from the Radio Maria Network retransmit the Vatican Radio’s English and KiSwahili language programmes every evening. Catholics across Africa are therefore assured of reliable and verified news about the Pope, Holy See and news about the African Church daily.

Radio Vaticana App.
Radio Vaticana App.

Download the Radio Vaticana App

Listeners can also download the Radio Vaticana App on play store.

Some listeners in Africa continue to pick Vatican Radio broadcasts via shortwave frequencies. The shortwave frequencies are sometimes boosted when major events such as Christmas, Easter or canonizations occur.

Contact KiSwahili and the English Africa Service - at this email:

Laudetur Iesus Christus,

Praised be Jesus Christ!







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29 September 2022, 17:05