Corruption a ‘sugar’ that causes diabetes, Pope tells youth

In his last public address in Nairobi, where he began his first papal visit to Africa, Pope Francis termed corruption as evil and a clear path to death, reminding those engaging in the vice that they “will not take the loot to the grave.”

In strongly toned address delivered outside his prepared speech at his meeting with the youth at Safaricom Stadium, Kasarani, in the presence of his host President Uhuru Kenyatta, the Pontiff said the hearts of many men and women are left wounded by graft.

“What you rob through corruption will stay here and someone else will use it,” said Pope Francis. “If you don’t want corruption in your heart, lives and in your country, then start with yourself now.

“I urge you not to develop that taste for that sugar called corruption because you will end up being diabetic and the country becomes diabetic too.”

The message comes barely days after the Kenyan leader reshuffled his Cabinet, dropping six of his Cabinet secretaries who had stepped aside to be investigated after allegations of corruption were made against them. In his reception address at State House on Thursday, President Kenyatta had called on the Pontiff to pray not only for the country but also for him in order to win the fight against corruption.

Pope Francis told Kenyans that his administration was also struggling with the vice.

“In the Vatican, there are cases of corruption,” the head of the Roman Catholic Church conceded. “It’s something that eats inside. It’s like sugar sweet and easy.”

On tribalism, the Pontiff called for reconciliation and peaceful co-existence, saying that it can destroy communities.

“Tribalism can mean having your hands hidden behind your backs,” he said.

“Let us stand up as a sign against bad tribalism. We are all a nation, and that’s how our hearts must be.

“The first means of communication is your facial expression, being close to others, friendship with others. I urge you all to speak well amongst yourselves, smile and relate with each other.”

Earlier, at the at the St Joseph the Worker Church located in the city neighbourhood of Kangemi, the Pope touched on the grabbing of public land in the country, saying the unjust distribution of land leads in many cases to higher costs of living as entire families are forced to pay excessive and unfair rents for utterly unfit housing.

“I am also aware of the serious problem posed by faceless ‘private developers’ who hoard areas of land and even attempt to appropriate the playgrounds of your children’s schools,” Pope Francis said, amid cheers from the congregation.

This was in reference to this year’s Langata Road Primary School playground debacle that saw schoolchildren tear-gassed by police as they defended the grabbing of their playground.