First Christian TV In Turbulent Zanzibar (Worthy News Exclusive)
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
ZANZIBAR CITY (Worthy News) – A bishop leading the first Christian TV network in Zanzibar has received government permission to broadcast its first Christmas programs on the Muslim-majority archipelago.
Bishop Dickson D. Kaganga, CEO of Joy Gospel TV, told Worthy News on Friday that he started the network backed by Zanzibar’s president and that he plans to expand across East Africa.
“We received a license from the government of the President [Hussein Mwinyi] of Zanzibar,” an autonomous region of 1.7 million people that is part of Tanzania, the evangelical bishop stressed. “It has now been possible to launch this television network this year,” he added.
“This is the first Christmas that Joy TV will blend with local government television and broadcast a Christmas Eve service live,” Kaganga explained.
He views the permit as somewhat of a Christmas miracle amid reported persecution of Christians in Zanzibar, seen as a hotbed for Islamic radicalism. “We have also faced opposition and violence from Muslims,” the evangelical bishop told Worthy News.
However, since Joy TV launched this year, many other Muslims accepted the Christian faith, the bishop said. “So far, it has a great impact in Zanzibar, and many Muslims are responding,” to the Gospel, he stressed.
While he is referred to as “bishop,” the television preacher and CEO oversees a non-traditional evangelical congregation in Zanzibar with 1200 adults and nearly 700 children.
His Zanzibar International Christian Center is part of the Assemblies of God Church, Pentecostal domination.
The 60-year-old married bishop, who has two children, wants to spread the Gospel from his congregation to non-believers throughout the region.
He admits that Christian broadcasting remains a challenge in a nation where radical groups aim to establish an Islamic state.
The Islamic state would include Zanzibar and a significant portion of the Tanzanian mainland without tolerance of Christians or other non-Muslims, according to experts.
Tensions have led to sometimes deadly attacks against Christians and churches in Zanzibar and other parts of Tanzania in recent years. “In 2012, my church was set on fire by radical Muslims,” Bishop Kaganga recalled.
Later in September 2016, Yohana Joseph Shemzigwa was reportedly killed in the Tanga Region by an Islamic militant who attacked a Lutheran church.
And in April 2017, a Catholic church in the coastal region was broken into and set on fire, Christians said. A note left at the scene included a death threat, according to rights investigators.
Yet, despite these difficulties, Bishop Kaganga hasn’t given up hope this Christmas season that his network will expand. “Right now, we already reach through satellite Zanzibar and part of Tanzania. We are hoping soon to receive more support so we can technically expand to the whole of Tanzania and East Africa.”
The network currently airs mainly worship services and Christian news in the Swahili language, but it already began several English programs, he added.
Joy Gospel TV can be found through
satellite channel Azerspace One, 46 degrees East. Its frequency is 3918, symbol rate 1250, and polarization horizontal, he explained.
The bishop said Christians from different backgrounds support the initiative. “To be honest, I just started this TV without a specific church. I wanted it to be independent, so I can work with whomever we want,” he stressed.
With Christmas around the corner, the Christian leader made clear he welcomes prayers and support for his network and church.
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