R.I.P. Marie-Soleil Frère
We are very sad
We have lost a wonderful friend and highly valued colleague: last night Prof. Dr. Marie-Soleil Frère, Principal Investigator in our INFOCORE consortium, succumbed to her illness after a year-long battle. Her exemplary capacity for mutual appreciation, her warmth of heart and her wisdom were an example and an incentive to us all. We owe her a great deal, both humanly and professionally. She was like the sun (Soleil) and now had to leave much too early. We will miss her very much. All our sympathy is with her family — her husband and daughters.
Marie Soleil Frère was Research Director at the National Fund for Scientific Research in Belgium and Professor at the Université Libre de Bruxelles in the Department of Sciences de l’Information et de la Communication. She was also an Associate Expert at the Panos Institute in Paris, for which she supervised the publication of training manuals and studies for media practitioners in Africa.
Marie-Soleil Frère has enjoyed the highest recognition worldwide for her research on media and journalism in Francophone sub-Saharan Africa. Her publication output and the quality and creativity of her research on media, conflict, politics and journalism in 17 Francophone African countries is unrivaled. Whether in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Chad, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo or Rwanda –– everywhere she was a valued expert who knew how to analyse and advise at eye level.
Her great love for the African continent and its people led her time and again to the region, where she conducted fieldwork herself for her research and also repeatedly engaged in academic teaching and the training of journalists in the field (e.g. at the University of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso). Her academic monographs have become classics – including Presse et démocratie en Afrique francophone (2000), The Media and Conflicts in Central Africa (2007), Elections and the Media in Post-Conflict Africa (2011). One of her most recent works deals with 150 years of African media history: In Journalismes d’Afrique (2016), Marie-Soleil Frère highlights the ideologies that have successively shaped the work of African journalists in the sub-Saharan region, such as colonisation, emancipation, dictatorship, democratic liberalisation and armed conflict.
Our INFOCORE project benefited enormously from her extraordinary expertise and her incredibly large and good network in Francophone sub-Saharan Africa. Together with her team, she investigated the roles of lay publics in conflict news production and reception and was the expert in our consortium for the two armed conflicts we investigated in Africa, in Burundi and in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Her excellent network enabled her to conduct highly interesting interviews with journalists, political leaders and NGOs in both countries. Already weakened by her illness but still with the highest quality standards, she participated in the final conference of the INFOCORE project in Brussels, where she contributed to the success of our research. We all have a lot to thank her for. Marie-Soleil, thank you for everything. We will never forget you!
Coordinator of the INFOCORE Project