Dr Gerald Musa (7th from left) with colleagues from CIWA
Dr Gerald Musa (7th from left) with colleagues from CIWA

UQ CSC PhD alumnus Rev. Fr. Dr Gerald M. Musa is a talented religious leader and scholar at the Centre for the Study of African Culture and Communication, Catholic Institute of West Africa (CIWA), Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Gerald’s work focuses on conflict management and promoting peace through the use of communication processes and techniques.

As a multi-talented scholar, Gerald is now employing his CSC knowledge and skills to train future change makers and contribute to the well-being of vulnerable people in Nigeria and beyond. We interviewed Gerald about his work, life and approaches to communication for social change in Nigeria.

Firstly, tell us a little about your work in Nigeria...

I work at the Centre for the Study of African Culture and Communication, which is in the Catholic Institute of West Africa, Port Harcourt, Nigeria. This institute is affiliated to the University of Calabar, Nigeria. I am engaged in teaching and research. I teach the following courses: Religious Communication, Development Communication, Religious Communication, and Communication for Interreligious Dialogue; Communication for Peace and Communication for Leadership. I dedicate a significant portion of my research to examining issues of Peace and Development as well as Religious Communication. 

What motivated you to take up the position?

I began working at this Centre four years ago in the same year that I graduated from The University of Queensland, and what motivated me to take up the position of teaching and research is to be able to share the knowledge I acquired through the years of postgraduate studies. I have had the opportunity of many years of studies and the rare privilege of obtaining a PhD degree at a renowned university. I thought one of the best ways of using my knowledge is to give back and share with upcoming scholars who are at different levels of their studies.

What do you enjoy most about the job?

I have a deep sense of fulfilment as I share knowledge with others. What is more, my job keeps me current about new trends in my areas of research interests. 

Have there been any challenges? 

One of the major challenges is in keeping a balance between teaching and research. One can be so engrossed in teaching that he/she could forget about putting in time and efforts in research or vice versa. Therefore, calibrating time and efforts between teaching and research is the main challenge that teachers in tertiary institutions have to contend with.

What are some key things you’ve learnt?

One of the key things I am learning is the ability to manage time well.  Academic life demands a lot of focus and concentration, and yet there are other aspects of life that equally require a good deal of time. I am still learning how to be productive in my academic activities and be socially balanced.

What are you most proud of?

I am very proud of some of the students we have produced from our institute. For example, one of our former students started a non-partisan radio station. The station has notable success stories of addressing social issues in the region. This same alumnus of the institute is beginning a television station that will start broadcasting soon. In addition, we have received good feedback from the employers of most of our former students.

In the Nigerian context, are there any specific social change challenges or issues that you have engaged with in your job?

Nigeria, like any society around the world, has many social challenges. In the last two years, the country is going through an economic recession and security challenges. The Boko Haram sect, through a misguided Jihad in the last seven years, has caused massive destruction in the country, especially in the north-eastern part of Nigeria. There are some parts of the country where there are ethno-religious conflicts.

We hear it often that another name for peace is development. Therefore, the specific social challenge that I have been concerned about is conflict management and promoting peace to give room for greater socio-economic development. In doing so, I have participated and facilitated seminars and conferences on development and peace initiatives as well as on interreligious dialogue.

What are some of the key communication for social change (CSC) skills that you have been using in the job(s)? 

One of the skills I learnt in Communication for Social Change is motivating people towards participation in planning and executing the peace process. Just as development requires planning, so does conflict management.

What, if anything, has the work taught you about the broad practice of communication for social change? 

In the last few years, I have come to realise that communication for social change can be promoted in different ways. I have two platforms on which I promote social change. The first is the classroom through teaching students Development Communication. The other platform is the Church pulpit where I promote practical theology (faith in action). One of the traditional definitions of theology is Faith seeking understanding (Fides quaerens intellectum). Contextual theology defines theology as faith seeking intelligent (creative) action.  Social change can, which is sometimes rooted in religious values, can take place through the action of faith communities who collectively decide to address social ills. 

Aside from work, how do you find living in Nigeria?

There is no boring moment living in Nigeria. Despite the economic recession and security challenges, there are emerging comedians whose creativity brings laughter and fun. These creative artists are powerful agents of social change.

If there was one thing that you’d like students studying CSC to take away from your experience, what would that be? 

Students who are studying Communication for Social Change would soon begin to see the society in which they live with a new lens. Having read numerous literature on Communication for Social change, they will have to find ways of applying their knowledge into their contexts (local situations). Simply put, they will have to think globally and act locally. 

Rev. Fr. Dr Gerald M. Musa has used his knowledge of CSC to give back, to teach scholars at many different levels and to promote peace through conflict management. We are sure there will be more great things to come for Gerald as he continues to develop his CSC skills through his work in Nigeria.

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