With over 4,000 Irish missionaries working in Africa, 'Radharc' examines the challenges faced by these young priests and nuns.
The reality of what these men and women face is quite different from what they expected.
One nun speaks about the struggles with keeping your ideals in a pagan atmosphere. She also describes feelings of isolation and the perceptions that the Irish back home have of the work that they do in Africa.
A missionary priest also talks about these challenges saying,
For the missionaries, it's the work of planting the faith, teaching in schools, and keeping on when the sun is hot...
According to the report Christianity was first brought to tropical Africa by the Portuguese during the 15th and 16th centuries. To secure the passage to India they established a number of settlements along the coast where their ships could stop for food and water. One of these was the old Arab port of Mombasa, where Islam is the predominant religion. In the middle of the 19th century a further attempt to bring Christianity to the region was spearheaded by French missionaries who travelled inland and found a completely new world.
A world untouched by any outside influence, a world which in many cases had never seen a white man until the coming of the missionary. To these people the missionary brought not only religion, but education and medicine and training in agriculture and hand crafts.
As time went on the French were joined by missionaries from other western countries including Ireland. One missionary priest says that a sense of humour and lack of colonial tendencies make the Irish acceptable to the Africans.
'Radharc in Africa' was scripted by Fr Desmond Forrestal and produced by Fr Joe Dunn. This episode of Radharc was broadcast on 19 May 1966.
‘Radharc’, a series specialising in religious programming, was produced for RTÉ by Radharc, an independent production company run by Catholic priests and lay staff. ‘Radharc’ can be translated to English as ‘view’ or ‘panorama’.
Co-founders Fr. Joe Dunn and Fr. Desmond Forristal who had received training in television production in New York in 1959 gathered around them a team of like minded priests with creative talent.
The ‘Radharc’ team made their first production in 1960 in Donegal, a short film about customs relating to St Brigid’s Day. The first programme in the ‘Radharc’ series for RTÉ was broadcast on 12 January 1962.
Between 1961 and 1996 the Radharc team would produce over 400 films in Ireland and 75 countries worldwide. The films dealt with human rights, injustice, faith, religion, persecution, struggles against oppressive regimes, famine, and Christian heritage.
The popular series ended production in 1996 after the death of Fr Joe Dunn.